Week Eight: Cohort Cycles
Richard Easterlin, Michael Wachter & Susan Wachter. 1978. The changing impact of population swings on the American economy.
- Before 1930 how did business cycles compare to population growth rates? Which component of population change (births, deaths, migration) accounted for the population changes?
- Which component of population change accounted for population trends after 1930? What changes in society caused this new pattern take the place of the previous one?
- What relation do Easterlin and his colleagues find between the birth rate in one historical period and the birth rate 25 years later? How do they explain why this pattern occurs?
Fred Pampel. 1993. Relative cohort size and fertility: the socio-political context of the Easterlin effect.
- What policies of some European countries does Pampel think might weaken or cancel out the parallels Easterlin found between fertility and economic cycles in the USA? What are some ways he measures such policies?
- How might women's participation in the labor force modify Easterlin cycles? How does Pampel measure this possible effect in his analysis? (What aspects of it does he NOT measure?)
- In which countries are Easterlin cycles strongest? In which are they weakest? (See Table 3.) How does Pampel explain this in terms of government policy differences?
Elwood Carlson. 1992. Inverted Easterlin fertility cycles and Kornai's "soft" budget constraint.
- Review Easterlin's assumptions about what causes fertility cycles. Which of these assumptions does Carlson say were not true in state socialist eastern Europe?
- Explain how the organization of state socialist economies could produce fertility cycles exactly opposite to those Easterlin predicted in western capitalist societies.
- Which eastern European countries fit the predicted "inverted" Easterlin fertility cycle? Name one country that not fit, and review how Carlson explained why it did not.