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From Busts to Booms in Babies and Goodies

Author

Listed:
  • Michele Boldrin
  • Larry E. Jones
  • Alice Schoonbroodt

Abstract

After the fall in fertility during the Demographic Transition, many developed countries experienced a baby bust, followed by the Baby Boom and subsequently a return to low fertility. Received wisdom from the Demography literature links these large fluctuations in fertility to the series of Economics 'shocks' that occurred with similar timing -- the Great Depression, WWII, the economic expansion that followed and then the productivity slow down of the 1970's. To economists, this line of argument suggests a more general link between fluctuations in output and fertility decisions, of which the Baby-Bust-Boom-Bust event (BBB) is a particularly stark example. This paper is an attempt to formalize the conventional wisdom in simple versions of stochastic growth models with endogenous fertility. First, we develop initial tools to address the effects of ''temporary'' shocks to productivity on fertility choices. Second, we analyze calibrated versions of these models. We can then answer several qualitative and quantitative questions: Under what conditions is fertility pro- or countercyclical? How large are these effects and how is this related to the 'persistence' of the shocks? How much of the BBB can be accounted for by the kinds of medium run productivity fluctuations described as computed from the data? Preliminary results show that under reasonable parameter values fertility is procyclical, that the elasticity of fertility to shocks lays between 1 and 1.7 and, finally, that in our models, productivity shocks capture between 1/3 and 2/3 of the US baby bust and between ¼ and ½ of the US baby boom
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Suggested Citation

  • Michele Boldrin & Larry E. Jones & Alice Schoonbroodt, 2005. "From Busts to Booms in Babies and Goodies," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000379, UCLA Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cla:levrem:784828000000000379
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    File URL: http://www.econ.umn.edu/~mboldrin/Papers/site05.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Michael R. Haines, 1994. "The Population of the United States, 1790-1920," NBER Historical Working Papers 0056, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. repec:cai:poeine:pope_304_0451 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Matthias Doepke & Moshe Hazan & Yishay Maoz, 2006. "The Baby Boom and World War II: The Role of Labor Market Experience," 2006 Meeting Papers 216, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Michele Boldrin & Larry E. Jones & Aubhik Khan, 2005. "Three Equations Generating an Industrial Revolution?," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000385, UCLA Department of Economics.
    8. John W. Kendrick, 1973. "Postwar Productivity Trends in the United States, 1948–1969," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend73-1, January.
    9. John W. Kendrick, 1961. "Productivity Trends in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend61-1, January.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity

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