Thursday, April 08, 2010

Baby boom narrative flawed

If you examine this chart of US birthrates created by Calculated Risk based on data from the US NCHS, you should notice that there was a spike in the rate during the WWII years; it goes up between 1939 and 1943, then drops again briefly before beginning the surge frequently referred to as the “baby boom”. A lot of press and marketing have been generated hyping the “baby boom”. This data calls into question the whole “Boomer” narrative…given that the surge in births started 10 years before the approximate start of the “baby boom”.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this chart. If there really was a surge in births, it was very short - pretty much just in 1946 and 1947, attributable no doubt to returning soldiers. Otherwise the Baby Boom was just a continuation of a trend that had started years earlier. And not a steady continuation either; I'll bet most people don't realize that births stayed steady or even declined from 1948 until 1952.


Christopher said...

The dating of historical periods is rarely ever accurate. Likely, the baby boomer generation is dated to when the term 'baby boom' entered the public conscious rather than when the trend actually started.

Phil said...

Try applying some smoothing to the graph, to get clear long-term trends. What's the result of a 5-year moving average? 10-year? etc?

Counting every dip and spike in the graph is not good statistical analysis.

Scott said...

Christopher, you are correct in that identifying distinct pivotal dates in history is an exercise in assumptions and opinions. This is certainly relevant to the concept of the US "baby boom". The chart I posted made me rethink my assumptions about this subject; I think now that I will look at discussions of the "baby boom" differently.