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September/October 1994, 
Vol. 76, No. 5
Posted 1994-09-01

Boom or Bust? The Economic Effects of the Baby Boom

by Peter S. Yoo

Between 1947 and 1962, the population of the United States grew at an average annual rate near 2 percent. This large but temporary increase in the population growth rate, more familiarly called the baby boom, raises an interesting and important question: How do such large changes in the population growth rate affect a developed economy? To answer this question, Peter Yoo turns to three models of economic growth that incorporate different aspects of demographic changes. The three models disagree about the speed and magnitude of such changes, but all show that after a period of slow growth, per capita consumption increases. Best of all, the models indicate such improvements in the standard of living occur even as aggregate saving drops. This suggests, Yoo concludes, that the retirement of the baby boomers need not imply diminishing standards of living.