IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/red/issued/11-180.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

War Finance and the Baby Boom

Author

Listed:
  • Kai Zhao

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

In this paper, I extend the Barro-Becker model of endogenous fertility to incorporate specific fiscal policies and use it to study the effects of the fiscal policy changes following WWII on fertility in the United States. The US government went through large changes in fiscal policy after the beginning of WWII. The marginal income tax rate for an average American jumped from 4% on average before 1940 to approximately 25% during the war and stayed around 20% afterwards. The government debt-GDP ratio jumped from approximately 30% on average before WWII to 108% in 1946 and then dropped gradually in the following two decades to about 30% again at the end of 1960s. I find that the dramatic increase in the marginal income tax rate was an important cause of the postwar baby boom in the US because it lowered the after-tax wage and thus the opportunity cost of child-rearing. I also find that the differential change in taxes by income was an important reason why the baby boom was more pronounced among richer households (as documented by Jones and Tertilt (2008)). Furthermore, I argue that the government's debt policy may also matter for understanding fertility choices because government debt implies a tax burden on children in the future and thus affects their utility, which is a key determinant of current fertility choice in the Barro-Becker model. The results of a computational experiment show that the US government's postwar debt policy also contributed to the baby boom, but its quantitative importance is relatively small. (Copyright: Elsevier)

Suggested Citation

  • Kai Zhao, 2014. "War Finance and the Baby Boom," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(3), pages 459-473, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:issued:11-180
    DOI: 10.1016/j.red.2013.09.003
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.red.2013.09.003
    Download Restriction: Access to full texts is restricted to ScienceDirect subscribers and institutional members. See http://www.sciencedirect.com/ for details.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2014. "This Time is Different: A Panoramic View of Eight Centuries of Financial Crises," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 15(2), pages 1065-1188, November.
    2. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2005. "The Baby Boom and Baby Bust," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 183-207, March.
    3. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "Varieties of Crises and Their Dates," Introductory Chapters,in: This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly Princeton University Press.
    4. de la Croix, David & Doepke, Matthias, 2004. "Public versus private education when differential fertility matters," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 607-629, April.
    5. Matthias Doepke & Moshe Hazan & Yishay D. Maoz, 2015. "The Baby Boom and World War II: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(3), pages 1031-1073.
    6. Robert Haveman & Barbara Wolfe, 1995. "The Determinants of Children's Attainments: A Review of Methods and Findings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1829-1878, December.
    7. Barro, Robert J & Becker, Gary S, 1989. "Fertility Choice in a Model of Economic Growth," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 481-501, March.
    8. Peter H. Friesen & Danny Miller, 1983. "Annual Inequality and Lifetime Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(1), pages 139-155.
    9. Juan Carlos Conesa & Sagiri Kitao & Dirk Krueger, 2009. "Taxing Capital? Not a Bad Idea after All!," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 25-48, March.
    10. Larry E. Jones & Alice Schoonbroodt, 2010. "Complements Versus Substitutes And Trends In Fertility Choice In Dynastic Models," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 51(3), pages 671-699, August.
    11. Gouveia, Miguel & Strauss, Robert P., 1994. "Effective Federal Individual Tax Functions: An Exploratory Empirical Analysis," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 47(2), pages 317-339, June.
    12. Matthias Doepke, 2005. "Child mortality and fertility decline: Does the Barro-Becker model fit the facts?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 18(2), pages 337-366, June.
    13. David de la Croix & Matthias Doepke, 2003. "Inequality and Growth: Why Differential Fertility Matters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1091-1113, September.
    14. repec:cor:louvrp:-1676 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
    16. Gary S. Becker & Robert J. Barro, 1988. "A Reformulation of the Economic Theory of Fertility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(1), pages 1-25.
    17. Gouveia, Miguel & Strauss, Robert P., 1994. "Effective Federal Individual Tax Functions: An Exploratory Empirical Analysis," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 47(2), pages 317-39, June.
    18. Zimmerman, David J, 1992. "Regression toward Mediocrity in Economic Stature," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 409-429, June.
    19. Zhao Kai, 2011. "Social Security, Differential Fertility, and the Dynamics of the Earnings Distribution," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-31, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Doepke, Matthias & Hazan, Moshe & Maoz, Yishay D., 2013. "The Baby Boom and WorldWar II: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Foerder Institute for Economic Research Working Papers 275822, Tel-Aviv University > Foerder Institute for Economic Research.
    2. Matthias Doepke & Moshe Hazan & Yishay D. Maoz, 2015. "The Baby Boom and World War II: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(3), pages 1031-1073.
    3. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2017. "Family Economics Writ Large," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(4), pages 1346-1434, December.
    4. Aaron Cooke & Hyun Lee & Kai Zhao, 2017. "Houses Divided: A Model of Intergenerational Transfers, Differential Fertility and Wealth Inequality," Working papers 2017-22, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fertility; Baby boom; Government debt; WWII;

    JEL classification:

    • E20 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:red:issued:11-180. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christian Zimmermann). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/sedddea.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.