The baby boom: new perspectives and new issues. A research initiative

David Reher, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Miguel Requena, Universidad Nacional de EducaciĆ³n a Distancia (UNED)
Maria Sanchez-Dominguez, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Alberto Sanz-Gimeno, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

This international research initiative addresses the causes and implications of the baby boom that transformed reproductive behavior in much of the world between the mid-1940s and 1965-1975. The baby boom was an unexpected change of course of fertility that, at least in the developed world, was already fairly low during the interwar period. There are reasons to believe that it affected societies in both the developed and the developing world. Increases in fertility were short-lived because soon after there was another decline in fertility to levels near or below replacement in much of the world. Much of the existing research on this period has been based on concerns closely tied to the concrete interests of individual societies undergoing periods of increasing fertility. Innovative analytical perspectives are necessary before our understanding of this process can be considered adequate. A more nuanced, comparative understanding of the baby boom may shed some light on certain aspects central to the future of population in much of the world. The baby boom provides the only historical example of a major upward trend change in fertility in the recent past. Deepening our understanding of the processes involved may help us understand better the contexts within which a similar change might take place in the future. In this presentation, the basic research strategy of an international research initiative involving research teams from the developed and the developing world will be outlined. Special attention will be paid to the design of the survey, a centerpiece of this initiative, scheduled to be administered initially to 1000 women 60+ years of age in Spain in early 2012. The structure of the survey instrument and the pilot study are described. Very preliminary results of the survey will also be presented.

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Presented in Session 11: History