The Baby Boom and World War II: A Macroeconomic Analysis

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Money Macro Seminar
University of Pennsylvania

3718 Locust Walk
309 McNeil

Philadelphia, PA

United States

Joint with: Moshe Hazan and Yishay D. Maoz

We argue that one major cause of the U.S. postwar baby boom was the increased demand for female labor during WorldWar 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.

For more information, contact Harold Cole.

Matthias Doepke

Northwestern University

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