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U.S. History A: The Eisenhower Era

or

NSL-B: Equal Opportunities

Link to Teacher Lesson Plan

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?

4. Check your birthrates:

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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since July 27, 2000.

 

Created by:

Mary D.P. Wagner

Social Studies Teacher

James Hubert Blake High School

link to Ms. Wagner's Home Page

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