U.S. History A: The Eisenhower Era

or

NSL-B: Equal Opportunities

# Title: The Baby Boom -- How Do We Know it is a Boom?

Skills: Analyzing Statistics

## Purpose: What you will learn:

This Net Investigation will demonstrate how statisticians calculate the birth rate statistics. Students will discover how the population in the U.S. in the 20th century resulted in a baby boom in the 1940s and 1950s, and a boom "echo" in the 1980s and 1990s.

 There is a lot of talk in the news about the Baby Boomers. We hear a lot about how they are aging now, and we have to worry about Social Security and medical care for them. Who are the baby boomers? What is a baby boom? Follow the steps below to see population statistics about births in the U.S. in the 20th century, and you will see the baby boom clearly. Reminder: the U.S. census of the population is taken every 10 years, so we are using comparable birth rates from those same years.

 1. Births: Look at a graph of the number of live births in the United States between 1910 and 1998. Study the graph and answer the questions below it. 2. Population: Look at a graph of the U.S. population between 1910 and 1998. Study the graph and answer the questions below it. 3. Calculate: This is the formula to calculate birth rates: Births / Population = Birthrate x 1000 = Birthrate per 1000 people Try it for 1960: Number of births was 4,257,950 and population was 179,323,175. What was the birth rate per 1000? Try it for 1990: Number of births was 4,158,212 and population was 248,709,873. What was the birth rate per 1000? Look at a graph of birth rates in the U.S. between 1910 and 1998. Were you right for 1960 and 1990? Study the graph and answer the questions below it.

 Concluding thoughts: Should we look at the birth rate or the straight number of births when we are analyzing increases in population? How does the growing population in the U.S. change our perception of the birth rate? Does it make a high number of births seem less significant? What else could contribute to an increase in population, besides births? What government policies could be changed based on this information? (Hint: Think about housing needs, schools, child care, number of working parents, medical care, etc.) Do you think relying on the birth rate (rather than the number of births) is a good way to make policy? What statistics should be considered?

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 Mary D.P. Wagner Social Studies Teacher James Hubert Blake High School link to Ms. Wagner's Home Page