How well do you know the baby boom?

HISTORY

John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

The world was shell-shocked by World War II … but not for long. As nations and their lonely women welcomed returning soldiers, well, they really, really welcomed those men. How much do you know about the Baby Boom?

The post-WWII baby boom is generally considered to have taken place during which time period?

The war ended in 1945, so according to some experts, the boom started in 1946. The boom lasted until about 1964 or so. Dates vary depending on how one weighs the various demographic information at hand.

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About how many babies were born from 1946 to 1964?

In the baby boom era, nearly 80 million babies were born. It wasn't just that more women were choosing to have children -- they also had bigger families.

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What is a baby boom?

A baby boom is any noticeable upswing in birth rates. The most famous baby boom occurred after the end of World War II.

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What caused the baby boom?

After World War II ended, millions of service personnel finally returned home. They bought homes, got jobs, and of course, started families or expanded their existing group of offspring.

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Although birth rates skyrocketed, marriage rates actually remained static.

During the 1940s, the marriage rate skyrocketed and couples began tying the knot sooner and sooner. Many American women were married by the time they turned 20.

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In the 1940s, what percentage of married American women opted NOT to have children?

Just 8 percent didn’t have children. The vast majority of American women were expected to have babies, and those that didn't were the subject of whispers around the neighborhood.

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In the 1930s (during the Great Depression), what percentage of married women opted NOT to have children?

During the 30s, about 15 percent of married women avoided having children, simply because they couldn't afford to care for them. That's nearly double the rate of childless married women in the post-war boom years.

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Women married at an approximate average age of 20. How old were their husbands?

Women married young and so did the men. Many men come straight home from war zones and tied the knot. Their average age was just 22 years old.

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The boom was caused almost entirely by women under the age of 21.

After the war, older couples decided to have more babies, too -- thanks to the end of the war, but also in large part due to the end of the Great Depression.

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American soldiers were mostly home by 1946, and in that year the birth rate rose how much compared to 1945?

The 1946 birth rate was about 20 percent higher than the rate in 1945. Babies were absolutely everywhere. No one was safe from the wailing of small infants, and the odor of dirty diapers wafted across the land.

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As the boom hit its (incredible) peak, how fast were American women pumping out babies?

On average, there was a baby born every eight seconds. In other words, much faster than the Grim Reaper could manage to cut down the old or accident-prone.

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How did the role of American women change during the baby boom?

Heaps of women were essentially told to become housewives, with their primary job being to raise children and take care of the home. Men, on the other hand, were to become the breadwinners for the expanding family.

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By the early 60s, when the boom finally ended, the boomers made up about what percentage of the population?

By the time the boom ended, babies and young people had flooded the land. They made up about 40 percent of the country's entire population.

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Following the war, what was the attitude towards having families?

With the end of the apocalyptic war, the future had never seemed brighter. The economy was roaring, too -- it seemed like the perfect time to have kids.

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How did the flow of families change during the boom?

The war tended to centralize populations. But after the war, couples married and had kids and moved into the ultra-cheap suburbs, where they could have big homes and yards.

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How did the boom affect consumer spending?

With scads of children roaming the country and the economy in full swing, companies sold unreal amounts of consumer goods, from TVs to microwaves to kids' toys.

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Other countries experienced a baby boom, too.

Following the war, the boom happened in many other countries. But booms were noticeably delayed in nations that suffered widespread destruction during the conflict.

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By 1960, the move-to-the-suburbs trend was overwhelming. Suburban parents and their offspring made up what percentage of the country's population?

In 1960, suburban parents and their kids made up about 30 percent of the entire U.S. population. It was a drastic and obvious change to the country's composition.

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The post-World War II boom is famous. There was a boom after World War I, too.

From 1918 to 1929, there was indeed a baby boom in the United States. That boom, however, came to a screeching halt.

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What caused the steep decline of births at the end of the World War I baby boom?

At the end of the 1920s, the Great Depression settled over the world. Families drastically cut back on births because they didn't have enough resources to care for children.

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The housewife trend of the 40s and 50s contributed directly to the feminist movement.

In the 60s, the feminist movement gained huge traction throughout the country. Millions of women who felt stifled by the postwar housewife mentality decided that they wanted more from life than having babies and cooking dinner.

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As boomers reached child-bearing age, they caused yet another boom.

Boomers, of course, added plenty of babies to the country, but they didn't cause a boom anything like the one following World War II. Many boomers waited longer to have children, which meant their offspring were more spread out.

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Family sizes grew a lot during the boom. What was the number of children per family in the late 1950s?

Compared to today, families were much bigger as the boom echoed across the country. By the late 1950s, there were about 3.7 children per family.

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What's the "dependency ratio"?

The dependency ratio indicates the number of people who are too young or too old to work. The higher the ratio, the more of a burden the rest of society bears to care for those who can't work.

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How are World War II baby boomers affecting the dependency ratio?

As boomers get older and older, the U.S. dependency ratio is rising. In just a few years it could perhaps reach an all-time high, as working people attempt to care for millions of elderly people.

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After the war, how did the G.I. Bill affect the population?

Returning soldiers had access to the G.I. Bill, which offered many benefits like cheap or free education and housing perks. That meant families made more money and had more cash to blow on TVs ... and kids.

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The United Kingdom experienced how many baby booms following the war?

Since the war, the U.K. has had three very pronounced baby booms, beginning with the one that occurred right after the war. It's just one more indicator of just how profoundly the war shaped our current civilization.

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Most boomers are now retired.

The oldest boomers are just now hitting their 70s. Most boomers plan to work past the age of 65. So for the moment, they are mostly still working and adding to the economy in enormous ways.

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How did average family income change after the war?

In the post-war years, jobs were plentiful and they paid great money, meaning that overall incomes rose. That meant more money to start families.

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Boomers now make up about what percentage of the U.S. population?

In 2017, boomers are a huge slice of the population. They account for about 28 percent of people in America.

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