Baby Boom

The Population Baby Boom of 1946-1964 in the United States

Age-Sex Pyramid of the United States
The Baby Boomers can be seen as a wide spot in this age-sex pyramid for the U.S.

The dramatic increase in the number of births from 1946 to 1964 in the United States (1947 to 1966 in Canada and 1946 to 1961 in Australia) is called the Baby Boom. It was caused by young males who, upon returning to the United States, Canada, and Australia following tours of duty overseas during World War II, began families; this brought about a significant number of new children into the world.

 

 

The Beginning of the Baby Boom

In the 1930s to early 1940s, new births in the United States averaged around 2.3 to 2.8 million each year. In 1946, the first year of the Baby Boom, new births in the U.S. skyrocketed to 3.47 million births!

New births continued to grow throughout the 1940s and 1950s, leading to a peak in the late 1950s with 4.3 million births in 1957 and 1961. (There was a dip to 4.2 million births in 1958) By the mid-sixties, the birth rate began to slowly fall. In 1964 (the final year of the Baby Boom), 4 million babies were born in the U.S. and in 1965, there was a significant drop to 3.76 million births. From 1965 on, there was a plunge in the number of births to a low of 3.14 million births in 1973, lower than any year’s births since 1945.

Life of a Baby Boomer

In the United States, approximately 79 million babies were born during the Baby Boom. Much of this cohort of nineteen years (1946-1964) grew up with Woodstock, the Vietnam War, and John F.

Kennedy as president.

In 2006, the oldest Baby Boomers turned 60 years old, including the first two Baby Boomer presidents, Presidents William J. Clinton and George W. Bush, both born in the first year of the Baby Boom, 1946.

 

Dropping Birth Rate After 1964

From 1973 on, Generation X was nowhere near as populous as their parents.

The total births rose to 3.6 million in 1980 and then 4.16 million in 1990. For 1990 on, the number of births has remained somewhat constant – from 2000 to now, the birth rate has hovered at 4 million annually. It’s amazing that 1957 and 1961 are the peak birth years in raw number of births for the nation even though the total national population was 60% of the current population. Obviously, the birth rate among Americans has dropped precipitously.

The birth rate per 1000 population in 1957 was 25.3. In 1973, it was 14.8. The birth rate per 1000 rose to 16.7 in 1990 but today has dropped to 14.

Affect on Economy

The dramatic increase in births during the Baby Boom helped to lead to exponential rises in the demand for consumer products, suburban homes, automobiles, roads, and services. Demographer P.K. Whelpton forecast this demand, as quoted in the August 9, 1948 edition of Newsweek.

 

When the number of persons is rising rapidly it is necessary to prepare for the increase. Houses and apartments must be built; streets must be paved; power, light, water, and sewer systems must be extended; existing factories, stores and other business structures must be enlarged or new ones erected; and much machinery must be manufactured.

 

And that’s exactly what happened. The metropolitan areas of the United States exploded in growth and led to huge suburban developments, such as Levittown.

 

See the next page for a chart of Births in the United States 1930-2007

The table below displays the total number of births for each year indicated from 1930 through 2007 in the United States. Notice the increase in births during the Baby Boom from 1946 to 1964. The source for this data are numerous editions of the Statistical Abstract of the United States.

U.S. Births 1930-2007

YearBirths
19302.2 million
19332.31 million
19352.15 million
19402.36 million
19412.5 million
19422.8 million
19432.9 million
19442.8 million
19452.8 million
19463.47 million
19473.9 million
19483.5 million
19493.56 million
19503.6 million
19513.75 million
19523.85 million
19533.9 million
19544 million
19554.1 million
19564.16 million
19574.3 million
19584.2 million
19594.25 million
19604.26 million
19614.3 million
19624.17 million
19634.1 million
19644 million
19653.76 million
19663.6 million
19673.5 million
19733.14 million
19803.6 million
19853.76 million
19904.16 million
19953.9 million
20004 million
20044.1 million
20074.317 million
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Your Citation
Rosenberg, Matt. "Baby Boom." ThoughtCo, Mar. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/baby-boom-overview-1435458. Rosenberg, Matt. (2017, March 3). Baby Boom. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/baby-boom-overview-1435458 Rosenberg, Matt. "Baby Boom." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/baby-boom-overview-1435458 (accessed November 19, 2017).