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Secular fertility declines, baby booms and economic growth: international evidence

Tamura, Robert and Simon, Curtis J. (2012): Secular fertility declines, baby booms and economic growth: international evidence.

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Abstract

We present a model capable of explaining 200 years of declining fertility, 200 years of rising educational achievement and a significant Baby Boom for the United States and twenty other industrialized market countries. We highlight the importance of secularly declining young adult mortality risk for producing secularly declining fertility and a sudden decline in housing costs after the end of the Second World War, but ending by 1970. In addition we introduce a new puzzle to the profession. Given the magnitude of the Baby Boom, roughly equal to fertility in 1900 for many of these countries, why did schooling of the Baby Boom cohorts not fall to the 1900 level of their predecessors? In fact, not only do they not fall, but their schooling levels are higher than previous cohorts. Using a quantitative model we are able to identify the magnitude of the reduction in costs of education necessary to explain this paradoxical increase in schooling. We find empirical support for these cost reductions.

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