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The New American Family:
Causes and Consequences of the Baby Boom

- Abstract

Perhaps the most important single fact about the postwar American society, William Petersen indicates, has been the sudden dizzy climb of the birth rate, which has taken the whole country, and especially the demographers, by surprise, with as yet incalculable consequences for our economy, family style, system of public education, and indeed every aspect of American life. Mr. Petersen is assistant professor of sociology at the University of California and author of the recently published Planned Migration: The Social Determinants of the Dutch-Canadian Movement (University of California Press). He contributed the much discussed “Is America Still the Land of Opportunity?” (November 1953) and, most recently, a study of the intellectual background of American immigration law, “The ‘Scientific’ Basis of Our Immigration Policy” (July 1955).

Today, demographers look back with nostalgia to this incident. For, ever since the end of the war, the American birth rate has undergone a metamorphosis which has left them only slightly less bewildered than the rest of the nation. Whereas it was once expected that the population would stabilize itself at about the 175 million mark, it seems now that by 1975 there will be 220 million Americans.

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