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Birth Quake

The Baby Boom and Its Aftershocks

Between 1965 and 1985, the Western world and the United States in particular experienced a staggering amount of social and economic change. In Birth Quake, Diane J. Macunovich argues that the common thread underlying all these changes was the post-World War II baby boom—in particular, the passage of the baby boomers into young adulthood.

Macunovich focuses on the pervasive effects of changes in "relative cohort size," the ratio of young to middle-aged adults, as masses of young people tried to achieve the standard of living to which they had become accustomed in their parents’ homes despite dramatic reductions in their earning potential relative to that of their parents. Macunovich presents the results of detailed empirical analyses that illustrate how varied and important cohort effects can be on a wide range of economic indicators, social factors, and even on more tumultuous events including the stock market crash of 1929, the "oil shock" of 1973, and the "Asian flu" of the 1990s. Birth Quake demonstrates that no discussion of business or economic trends can afford to ignore the effects of population.

314 pages | 64 line drawings, 12 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2002

Population and Development Series

Sociology: Demography and Human Ecology

Table of Contents

Overview: The Birth Quake and Its Aftershocks

Part 1.Defining Concepts and Terms

1.Population Growth and Relative Cohort Size

2.Male Relative Income and Its Significance

3.Defining Variables: Relative Cohort Size and Relative Income

Part 2.First-Order Effects of Changing Relative Cohort Size

4.Patterns of Male Relative Income over the Years

5.First-Order Effects of Relative Cohort Size: Long-Term Trends
in Unemployment, Relative Income, and Returns to College

6.Effects of Relative Cohort Size on Inequality and the Overall
Structure of Wages

Part 3.Second-Order Effects of Changing Relative Cohort Size

7.Women’s Roles: Labor Force Participation and the Emergence
of the "Career Woman"

8.Boom and Bust Cycles in College Enrollment Rates

9.Effects of Changing Male Relative Income on Marriage
and Divorce

10.The Dissappearance of the Marriage Wage Premium

11.Relative Cohort Size and Fertility: The Boom Turns into a Bust

12.Relative Cohort Size Effects—Even in Developing Countries

Part 4.Third-Order Effects of Changing Relative Cohort Size

13.Aggregated Demand Effects of Changing Population
Age Structure

14.Population-Induced Economic Slumps

15.Macroeconomic Correlations: GDP Growth, Inflation,
Saving Rates, and the Stock Market


Appendix A: Expectations in the Williams College Class of 1999
Appendix B: Data for Figure 4.1
Author Index
Subject Index

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