The Baby Boom and World War II: A Macroeconomic Analysis

Matthias Doepke, Moshe Hazan, Yishay Maoz

NBER Working Paper No. 13707
Issued in December 2007, Revised in February 2015
NBER Program(s):Economic Fluctuations and Growth, Children, Labor Studies

We argue that one major cause of the U.S. postwar baby boom was the rise in female labor supply during World War 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 impact of the war on female labor supply and fertility in the decades following the war. For the war generation of women, the high demand for female labor brought about by mobilization leads to an increase in labor supply that persists after the war. As a result, younger women who reach adulthood in the 1950s face increased labor market competition, which impels them to exit the labor market and start having children earlier. The effect is amplified by the rise in taxes necessary to pay down wartime government debt. In our calibrated model, the war generates a substantial baby boom followed by a baby bust.

download in pdf format
   (681 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13707

Published: Matthias Doepke & Moshe Hazan & Yishay D. Maoz, 2015. "The Baby Boom and World War II: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(3), pages 1031-1073. citation courtesy of

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Jones and Schoonbroodt w16596 Baby Busts and Baby Booms: The Fertility Response to Shocks in Dynastic Models
Goldin w3203 The Role of World War II in the Rise of Women's Work
Easterlin The American Baby Boom in Historical Perspective
Bailey and Collins w14641 Did Improvements in Household Technology Cause the Baby Boom? Evidence from Electrification, Appliance Diffusion, and the Amish
Albanesi and Olivetti w16146 Maternal Health and the Baby Boom
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us