What caused the post-WWII baby boom, and where might it recur?

It ought to be one of the biggest mysteries in social science. The standard story that it was due to “the economy” ignores that the correlation between the economy and birthrates is almost always the opposite. If it’s something specific to economic growth at that particular development stage, why don’t we see it in developing countries going through a similar stage today? If it is a result of war, why wasn’t there a similar boom after World War I? There was an uptick in the fertility rate in the years after the war, but it immediately went back on its long term decline trend.

We know that, outside France and Austria, the baby boom was due to an increase in marriage, with more people marrying and them marrying at younger ages, rather than an increase in births within married couples at a given age.(See https://www.demographic-research.org/volumes/vol38/40/38-40.pdf) Looking for areas where conditions would mimic those in the West in 1945, we should look for:

1. The economic conditions are most comparable to The U.S./Europe in the 1930s.
2. The age at first marriage is relatively high and can come down, and this, not widespread use of contraception, is the reason fertility rates are relatively low. Once couples marry they have relatively more children than married couples in the West.
3. Out-of wedlock births are low.
4. Fertility rates have been stagnant for a while.

Do these conditions apply to parts of the Arab world?

One thought on “What caused the post-WWII baby boom, and where might it recur?

  1. WarOnReasons

    Possibly the boom requires the combination of both factors – war and strong economic growth.
    In a nation that feels itself threatened by external enemy large families are considered a positive thing, rather than just a marker of a low class. On the individual level, strong economic growth makes people more optimistic about being able to afford more children.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s