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Maternal Health and the Baby Boom

Author

Listed:
  • Claudia Olivetti

    (Boston University)

  • Stefania Albanesi

    (Columbia University)

Abstract

In 1900, one mother died for every 118 live births in the United States. Approximately 15,000 women died of childbirth each year between 1900 and 1930, and pregnancy related causes accounted for over 15% of all female deaths at age 15-44. For every death, twenty more mothers suffered obstetric complications leading to severe and long term disability. Between 1936 and 1956, maternal deaths dropped by 94%, reaching modern levels by the late 1950s. The incidence of pregnancy-related conditions also underwent a similar reduction. We examine the link between the decline in the maternal health burden and the mid-twentieth century baby boom, exploiting the large cross-state variation in the magnitude of this drop and the differential exposure of women by cohort. We find that for every 10 unit drop in maternal mortality, completed fertility rises by 0.6-1.1 children for women born between 1931 and 1938. These findings provide new insights on the determinants of fertility in the U.S. and other countries that experienced similar improvements in maternal health.

Suggested Citation

  • Claudia Olivetti & Stefania Albanesi, 2010. "Maternal Health and the Baby Boom," 2010 Meeting Papers 85, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed010:85
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy

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