Skip to main content


  • Robert Tamura (a1) and Curtis Simon (a1)

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 for 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 did it not fall, but the schooling levels of these cohorts are higher than for 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 produce a novel data set on historical education expenditures with over 1,500 observations. We find empirical support for these cost reductions.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence to: Robert Tamura, Department of Economics, Sirrine Hall, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634; e-mail:
Hide All

Clemson University and Clemson University. Contact information for corresponding author: (864) 656-1242; e-mail: We thank the seminar participants at the Midwest Macroeconomics Meetings at Washington University, Florida State University, IUPUI and the Conference on Open Macroeconomics and Development in Aix en Provence for helpful comments and suggestions. We remain responsible for all remaining errors.

Hide All
Albanesi, Stefania (2013) Maternal Health and Fertility: An International Perspective. Columbia University working paper.
Albanesi, Stefania and Olivetti, Claudia (2014) Maternal health and the Baby Boom. Quantitative Economics 5, 225269.
Bailey, Martha J. and Collins, William J. (2011) Did improvements in household technology cause the Baby Boom? Evidence from electrification, appliance diffusion, and the Amish. American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics 3, 189217.
Baum-Snow, Nathaniel (2007) Did highways cause suburbanization? Quarterly Journal of Economics 122, 775805.
Becker, Gary, and Lewis, H. Gregg (1973) On the interaction between the quantity and quality of children. Journal of Political Economy 81, S279S288.
Doepke, Matthias, Hazan, Moshe, and Maoz, Yishay (2015) The Baby Boom and World War II: A macroeconomic analysis. Review of Economic Studies 82, 10311073.
Easterlin, Richard (1961) The American Baby Boom in historical perspective. American Economic Review 51, 869911.
Easterlin, Richard (1966) Economic-demographic interactions and long swings in economic growth. American Economic Review 56, 10631104.
Ehrlich, Isaac and Lui, Francis T. (1991) Intergenerational trade, longevity, and economic growth. Journal of Political Economy 99, 10291059.
Greenwood, Jeremy, Seshadri, Ananth, and Vandenbroucke, Guillaume (2005) The Baby Boom and Baby Bust: Some macroeconomics for population economics. American Economic Review 95, 183207.
Historical Statistics of the United States: Millennial Edition (2006) New York: Cambridge University Press.
Human Development Report (various issues). New York: Oxford University Press.
Jones, Charles I. (2001) Was an industrial revolution inevitable? Economic growth over the very long run. Advances in Macroeconomics 2, Article 1.
Kalemli-Ozcan, Sebnem (2002) Does mortality decline promote economic growth? Journal of Economic Growth 7, 411439.
Kalemli-Ozcan, Sebnem (2003) A stochastic model of mortality, fertility and human capital investment. Journal of Development Economics 62, 103118.
Keyfitz, N. and Flieger, W. (1968) World Population: An Analysis of Vital Data. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Keyfitz, N. and Flieger, W. (1990) World Population Growth and Aging: Demographic Trends in the Late Twentieth Century. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Liesner, T. (1989) One Hundred Years of Economic Statistics. London: The Economist Publications Ltd.
Lindert, Peter H. (2004) Growing Public, Vol. 2. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Mitchell, B.R. (2003a) International Historical Statistics: Africa, Asia & Oceania, 4th ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Mitchell, B.R. (2003b) International Historical Statistics: The Americas, 5th ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Mitchell, B.R. (2003c) International Historical Statistics: Europe, 5th ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Murphy, Kevin M., Simon, Curtis J., and Tamura, Robert (2008) Fertility decline, baby boom and economic growth. Journal of Human Capital 2, 262302.
OECD (Accessed September 2015) Demography. Available at
Schoellman, Todd (2012) Education quality and development accounting. Review of Economic Studies 79, 388417.
Simon, Curtis J. and Tamura, Robert (2009) Do higher rents discourage fertility? Evidence from U.S. cities, 1940–2000. Regional Science and Urban Economics 39, 3342.
Statistics Denmark (Accessed September 2015) Total Fertility Rate. Statistics Denmark. Available at
Statistics Finland (Accessed September 2015) Total Fertility Rate: 1776–2014. Statistics Finland. Available at
Statistics Ireland (Accessed September 2015) Annual Report of the Registrar-General of Marriages, Births and Deaths in Ireland. Statistics Ireland. Available at
Statistics Japan (Accessed September 2015) 2-25 Standardized Vital Rates and Reproduction Rates. National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. Available at
Statistics New Zealand (Accessed September 2015) Measuring Fertility. Population Statistics Unit of Statistics New Zealand. Available at
Statistics Norway (Accessed September 2015) 3.16 Total Fertility Rate and Age Specific Fertility Rates for 5-Year Periods. Statistics Norway. Available at
Statistics Sweden (Accessed September 2015) Historical Statistics of Sweden: 1720–1967, specifically Table 34. Statistics Sweden. Available at
Tamura, Robert (1991) Income convergence in an endogenous growth model. Journal of Political Economy 99, 522540.
Tamura, Robert (1996) From decay to growth: A demographic transition to economic growth. Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control 20, 12371261.
Tamura, Robert (2001) Teachers, growth and convergence. Journal of Political Economy 109, 10211059.
Tamura, Robert (2002) Human capital and the switch from agriculture to industry. Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control 27, 207242.
Tamura, Robert (2006) Human capital and economic development. Journal of Development Economics 79, 2672.
Tamura, Robert, Dwyer, Gerald P., Devereux, John, and Baier, Scott (2016) Economic Growth over the Long Run. Clemson University working paper.
Tamura, Robert, Simon, Curtis J., and Murphy, Kevin M. (2016) Black and White Fertility, Differential Baby Booms: The Value of Equal Education Opportunity. Journal of Demographic Economics 82, 27109.
Tanzi, Vito and Schuknecht, Ludger (2000) Public Spending in the 20th Century: A Global Perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Turner, Chad, Tamura, Robert, Mulholland, Sean, and Baier, Scott (2007) Education and income of the states of the United States: 1840–2000. Journal of Economic Growth 12, 101158.
Turner, Chad, Tamura, Robert, and Mulholland, Sean (2013) How important are human capital, physical capital and total factor productivity for determining state economic growth in the United States, 1840–2000? Journal of Economic Growth 18, 319371.
United Nations (1950) Demographic Yearbook 1949–50. New York: United Nations.
United Nations (1965) Demographic Yearbook 1965. New York: United Nations.
United Nations (1970) Demographic Yearbook 1969. New York: United Nations.
United Nations Development Programme (various years) Human Development Report: Various Years New York: United Nations Development Programme.
UNESCO (various years) UNESCO Statistical Yearbooks: Various Years New York: UNESCO.
United States Census Bureau (various years) Statistical Abstracts of the United States. Washington, DC: United States Census Bureau.
United States Department of Education (2010) Digest of Education Statistics 2009. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.
World Bank (Accessed September 2015) World Development Indicators. Available at
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Macroeconomic Dynamics
  • ISSN: 1365-1005
  • EISSN: 1469-8056
  • URL: /core/journals/macroeconomic-dynamics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 45 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 128 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 25th October 2017 - 22nd March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.