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February 1998, Vol. 121, No. 2
The post-World War II "baby boom," characterized by high fertility rates from 1946 to 1964, put a stamp on the social, political, and economic landscape of the Nation that is likely to last well into the next century. Seventy-six million babies were born over the 19-year period, or about 4 million per year. Because the baby-boom generation is so large relative to the generations directly before and after it, as its members progress through the various life stages, demographers often compare it to watching a python eating a pigletthe bulge moves slowly through the system. Fertility rates declined in the subsequent period, however, and the average number of births dropped to about 3.4 million per year from 1965 to 1976. The resulting smaller generation is sometimes called the "baby bust."1
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1 Birth and fertility statistics, National Center for Health Statistics, homepage (http://www.cdc.gov/nchswww/mission.htm), November 1997. For background on the baby boom and how it relates to the economy, see Louise B. Russell, The Baby Boom Generation and the Economy (Washington, Brookings, 1982.)
2 "Populations Changes that Help for a While," Business Week, Sept. 3, 1979, pp. 180-87.
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