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The Baby Boom and World War II: A Macroeconomic Analysis

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  • Matthias Doepke
  • Moshe Hazan
  • Yishay D. Maoz

Abstract

We argue that one major cause of the U.S. postwar baby boom was the increased demand for female labor during World War II. We develop a quantitative dynamic general equilibrium model with endogenous fertility and female labor-force participation decisions. We use the model to assess the long-term implications of a one-time demand shock for female labor, such as the one experienced by American women during wartime mobilization. For the war generation, the shock leads to a persistent increase in female labor supply due to the accumulation of work experience. In contrast, younger women who turn adult after the war face increased labor-market competition, which impels them to exit the labor market and start having children earlier. In our calibrated model, this general-equilibrium effect generates a substantial baby boom followed by a baby bust, as well as patterns for age-specific labor-force participation and fertility rates that are consistent with U.S data.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthias Doepke & Moshe Hazan & Yishay D. Maoz, 2008. "The Baby Boom and World War II: A Macroeconomic Analysis," IEW - Working Papers 355, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  • Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:355
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fertility; Baby Boom; World War II;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D58 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Computable and Other Applied General Equilibrium Models
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General

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