Friday, December 9, 1977 Weekender 9
Children of 1957 the baby boom they ignited
By BRUCE ELLIS
Born in 1957?
If so, you are just one of 4.3 million
people born that year, the peak year for
births in the post-World War II baby
The boom in births that occurred
between the late 1940s and 50s in the
United States was due to the end of the
depression, postponement of births
during WWII and other reasons,
according to a new book, Postwar
Fertility Trends and Differentials in the
United States, co-authored by UNC
assistant sociology professor Ronald R.
The baby boom has had major effects
on society. The nation has had to
provide food and clothes for the baby
boom kids, educate them and now must
provide jobs for them.
At first, maternity wards in hospitals
were not large enough to accomodate
the increase in births, then elementary
school facilities had to be increased and
new schools built. Later, high schools
and colleges had to be expanded.
The boom in births occurred in every
social and economic subgroup in the
United States, according to Rindfuss'
recent book, which updates past studies
on fertility trends.
A sharp increase in births occurred
after World War 11, and the birth rate
increased until 1957, the peak year for
fertility in the nation, Rindfuss said.
Since 1957, the birth rate has
gradually declined in every group in the
nation. The decline accelerated in 1970,
"Fertility is lower now than it has ever
been," Rindfuss said. "It's reached a
Despite the current low birth rate, the
baby boom kids have now reached or
are approaching the normal age for
marriage and childbearing.
"One of the major questions is what
are they (the baby boom kids) going to
do about fertility with so many of
them," Rindfuss said. "It will definitely
have a major impact on society. We may
even have another boom in births."
He said some authorities believe the
nation might see a sharp increase in
births soon, others think the current rate
will remain the same and still others
believe fertility will continue to decline.
"We're entering a whole new era,"
Rindfuss said. "There were limited
fluctuations in fertility in the past
because of limited control over
Fertility, however, can be controlled
now by individual couples through birth
control methods and, therefore, the
birth rate can fluctuate more easily.
Fluctuations in the birth rate have a
major impact on society, Rindfuss said,
because institutions, such as schools,
which are age-related must deal with
increasing and decreasing numbers of
people in the population.
Due to the baby boom and the
subsequent decline in the birth rate,
communities across the nation which
once considered raising school taxes to
accommodate the baby boom children
now are debating which schools they
The baby boom has had other effects
on society. Enrollment in colleges and
universities in the nation rose from 1.5
million in 1952 to 6.3 million in 1972and
the proportion of young adults
attending college rose from 1 1 percent
to 25 percent during these years,
according to the Census Bureau.
Baby boom kids are now entering the
labor force and must try to find jobs.
Authorities attribute the increase in the
proportion of college students to the
notion that an education means success
in the job world. After trying to cram
into management positions, the baby
boom generation may find, however,
that there are fewer people for them to
manage due to the decline in births since
The baby boom generation also will
have troubles when it reaches retirement
age. The Census Bureau estimates that
the elderly population will rise from 23
million today to 55 million by the ear
The Social Security system then will
be affected by the large number of
retired adults drawing benefits from
taxes collected from a smaller work
Ira David Wood, pictured, is the miserly
Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, the
Charles Dickens classic to be presented
by Raleigh's Theatre in the Park. The
show, a musical adaptation of the tale,
will -be performed at 8:15 p.m. today
through Sunday, and Dec. 13 through
18 Tickets are $4 for adults, $2.50" for
students. Call 755-6936 for more
des bus and motel
and returns Dec. 20
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