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Fluctuations in relative income and the baby boom in the United States


, : Fluctuations in relative income and the baby boom in the United States. Population et Avenir: 2-6

This work argues that fluctuations in relative income of young adults in the US after World War II coincided with the dramatically increased fertility of the baby boom and were probably a significant determining factor in its occurrence and eventual interruption. The US total fertility rate declined rapidly in the early 20th century, from 3.8 in 1900 to 2.44 in 1929 and 2.24 in 1935-36. Fertility was below replacement level in 1932-39. Its spectacular recovery from the early 1940s culminated in the year 1957, with a total fertility rate of 3.77. Fertility declined rapidly again in the late 1960s and attained its low point in 1976, with a total fertility rate of 1.74. It has slowly increased since then, especially with the arrival of increasing numbers of high-fertility immigrants from Latin America beginning in the late 1980s. Although per capita gross national product in the US rose dramatically between 1929 and 1994, income distribution also changed, as did the relative income from wages and salaries of workers under 40 years old. From the end of World War II until the late 1950s, the wage and salary income of young workers increased more rapidly than did that of older workers, so that younger workers were at an advantage during the years of the baby boom. Young workers also benefited from federal programs such as Fulbright scholarships, home loan programs, and veterans benefits. Transfer payments for pensions and higher interest rates progressively improved the position of older workers, and younger workers faced a loss of relative income in the 1960s and 1970s that coincided with the end of the baby boom and that quite likely was a causative factor. With the progressive aging of the US population, the relative loss of income of younger workers will probably intensify and be joined by a relative loss of political power, as the proportion of the electorate in the prime childbearing years shrinks further.

US$29.90

PMID: 12321543


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