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Baby-Boom, Baby-Bust and the Great Depression

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  • Bellou, Andriana

    () (University of Montreal)

  • Cardia, Emanuela

    () (University of Montreal)

Abstract

The baby-boom and subsequent baby-bust have shaped much of the history of the second half of the 20th century; yet it is still largely unclear what caused them. This paper presents a new unified explanation of the fertility Boom-Bust that links the latter to the Great Depression and the subsequent economic recovery. We show that the 1929 Crash attracted young married women 20 to 34 years old in 1930 (whom we name D-cohort) in the labor market possibly via an added worker effect. Using several years of Census micro data, we further document that the same cohort kept entering into the market in the 1940s and 1950s as economic conditions improved, decreasing wages and reducing work incentives for younger women. Its retirement in the late 1950s and in the 1960s instead freed positions and created employment opportunities. Finally, we show that the entry of the D-cohort is associated with increased births in the 1950s, while its retirement turned the fertility Boom into a Bust in the 1960s. The work behavior of this cohort explains a large share of the changes in both yearly births and completed fertility of all cohorts involved.

Suggested Citation

  • Bellou, Andriana & Cardia, Emanuela, 2014. "Baby-Boom, Baby-Bust and the Great Depression," IZA Discussion Papers 8727, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8727
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    Cited by:

    1. Bastien Chabé-Ferret & Paula Eugenia Gobbi, 2018. "Economics Uncertainty and Fertility Cycles: The Case of the Post-WWII Baby Boom," Working Papers ECARES 2018-19, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    2. Glenn Sandström, 2017. "A reversal of the socioeconomic gradient of nuptiality during the Swedish mid-20th-century baby boom," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 37(50), pages 1625-1658.
    3. Bellou, Andriana & Cardia, Emanuela, 2016. "Occupations after WWII: The legacy of Rosie the Riveter," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 124-142.
    4. Namkee Ahn & Virginia Sánchez-Marcos, 2020. "Analysis of fertility using cohort-specific socio-economic data," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 711-733, September.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    baby boom; baby bust; Great Depression; added worker effect; retirement; fertility;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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