A baby boom is a period marked by a significant increase of birth rate. This demographic phenomenon is usually ascribed within certain geographical bounds of defined national and cultural populations. People born during these periods are often called baby boomers; however, some experts distinguish between those born during such demographic baby booms and those who identify with the overlapping cultural generations. The cause of baby booms involves various fertility factors. The most well-known baby boom occurred in the mid-twentieth century, beginning in the late 1930s or early 1940s and ending in the 1960s. It was a change of trend that was largely unexpected, because in most countries it occurred in the midst of a period of improving economies and rising living standards.
The baby boom occurred in countries experiencing damage from war and economic hardships. In the United States the baby boom was attributed to numerous veterans returning home post-war, in 1945. The passing of the G.I. Bill of Rights by the U.S. Congress, encouraged home ownership and higher education levels by charging little to no interest on loans for veterans. The improved economic position allowed more people to start families.
From 1946 to 1964, more than 76.4 million children were born in the United States. At the height of this baby boom, at an average of seven seconds, a child was born. Factors that contributed to the baby boom consisted of young couples who started families after putting off marriage during the War, government encouragement of growth of families through the aid of GI benefits, and popular culture that celebrated pregnancy, parenthood, and large families. Once the baby boom began, the average age for marriage in woman started decreased to 20 from 22. Couples were eager to have babies post-war due to the increased notion of safety in the world. Another cause of the baby boom was increased affordability to move to suburban areas and raise a family from the city. The cost of living in the suburbs was low, especially for returning soldiers.
Many families were adopting popular culture including television and gadget purchases, opening credit card accounts, and buying mouse ears to wear while watching The Mickey Mouse Club. Once economists realized how many children were being born, concern arose about enough resources being available, especially when those born in the baby boom time period started having kids of their own.
Issues caused by the baby boom
Issues of the baby boom time period concerned the impact of population change on socioeconomic conditions. One economic impact was the concern of an increased dependency ratio as the baby boomers age and retire. The Census Bureau estimates that the dependency ratio in the United States will be 65 by 2020 and reach 75, the highest it has been since the 1960s and 1970s when those baby boomers were children. Further, the increasing population from the boom may increase demand for housing, transportation, facilities and food. An inability to meet the increasing population demands could lead to resource shortage and insufficient health care facilities and lead to deaths in the population.
"According to the new UNICEF report, almost 2 billion babies will be born in Africa between 2015 and 2050 and the 2 main driving forces behind this surge in births and children are continued high fertility rates and rising numbers of women able to have children of their own."
The HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa has contributed locally to a population boom. Aid money used for contraceptives has been diverted over the past two decades into fighting HIV, which lead the number of babies born far outstripping the deaths from AIDS.
After being in a lull of low birth rates, France experienced a baby boom after 1945. The sense that the population was too small, especially in regard to the more powerful Germany, was a common theme in the early 20th century. Pronatalist policies were proposed in the 1930s and implemented in the 1940s.
In addition, there was steady immigration, especially from former French colonies in North Africa. The population of France grew from 40.5 million in 1946 to nearly 50 million in 1968 and just under 60 million by 1999. The farm population declined sharply, from 35% of the workforce in 1945 to under 5% by 2000. By 2004, France had the second highest birthrate in Europe, behind only Ireland.
- The First Baby Boom
In Japan, the first baby boom occurred between 1947 and 1949. The number of births in the past three years exceeds 2.5 million every year, bringing the total number of births to about 8 million. The 2.69 million births in 1949 are the largest ever in postwar statistics. The people born in this period is called the "baby boom generation" (団塊の世代, dankai no sedai, means "the generation of nodule").
- The Second Baby Boom
It often refers to a period of more than 2 million births from 1971 to 1974, with the number of births in 1973 peaking at 2.09 million. However, unlike the first baby boom, this increase in the number of births is an increase in the number of births not accompanied by an increase in the total fertility rate. The people born during this period is often called "baby boom junior" (団塊ジュニア, dankai junia, means "the juniors of the generation of nodule").
The rate of births has been declining since the second baby boom.
- Decreţei: (1967–1989), A ban on abortion and contraception caused a baby boom in Romania, consequently overcrowding hospitals. From the Chicago Tribune on December 26, 1967, the article stated that a doctor had to beg a woman to give birth at home due to overcrowding at the hospital. The column also stated how "pregnant women were having to share hospital beds, and sickly babies were being put into oxygen tents in groups." The baby boom in Romania caused problems that began affecting the health of its residents. Before its ban in 1966, abortion was the only form of birth control. Additionally, an ethno-nationalism set of policies from Romania's Leader at the time, Nicolae Ceausescu, further contributed to the baby boom. To encourage people in dominant ethnic groups to have more children, the Romanian Government created financial incentives to have children, specifically a tax for anyone over 25 without a child. This motivated a lot of people to have children at a younger age and do so with ethnic Romanian partners, leading to an initial surge in births, whose rate then began to drop to 14.3 births per 1000 individuals by the 80s. In an effort to ramp up birth rates, Ceausescu made new policies: he changed the legal age to marry to 15, launched social media campaigns, and mandated monthly gynecological exams administered to all women of childbearing age. This caused a near-fivefold increase in spending on incentives, yet managed to decrease the birth rate by 40%.
The term "baby boom" most often refers to the post–World War II baby boom (1946–1964) when the number of annual births exceeded 2 per 100 women (or approximately 1% of the total population size). There are an estimated 78.3 million Americans who were born during this period. The term is a general demographic and is also applicable to other similar population expansions.
Recent baby boom periods include the following:
- Post–World War I baby boom: (1918–1929)
- Mid-twentieth century baby boom, commonly called post-World War II baby boom: Years of duration vary, depending on the source.
- Echo Boomers (Millennials): (researchers and commentators use birth years typically ranging from the early 1980s to the mid 1990s) are mostly the children of baby boomers and a few members of the Silent Generation and Gen X.
Effects on dependency caused by the Baby boom (1946–1964)
During the baby boom the U.S. experienced after World War II, the dramatic rise in births led to a higher dependency ratio, which means that there is a large portion of the population under the age of 15 and over the age of 65 that relies on those in the work force (ages 15–64). The Cohort of this baby boom is expected to once again increase the dependency ratio once the majority is over the age of 65, as these people will no longer be part of the work force. Some of the 75 million baby boomers began to reach retirement age in 2011. In the year 2000, only 12.4% of the population was 65 or over and is predicted to rise to 18% by 2020, largely due to the baby boom. Currently the Government supports social security to the population over 65, which may lead the states increasing their budget to fund programs like Medicaid.
Israel has been in a constant baby boom since independence, with the highest fertility rate in the OECD at 3.1 children per woman. In addition to having the highest fertility rate among developed nations, it is the only developed country to have never had a sub-replacement fertility rate. Israel's baby boom began in 1947, a year before independence, when the fertility rate among the Yishuv, or Jewish population of what was then Mandatory Palestine, began to rise dramatically as a result of the aftereffects of the Holocaust and expectations of Jewish independence.
- THE NEXT FOUR DECADES – The Older Population in the United States: 2010 to 2050 U.S. Census Bureau
- Population growth statistics from the Commission on Population Growth and the American Future (1972)