The cohort is a key concept in the study of social demography and social change. The enduring influence of cohort membership can arise from history-based and/or size-based effects. The most prominent proponent of size-based cohort effects is Easterlin (Birth and fortune: The impact of numbers on personal welfare, 1980) who argues that individuals hailing from unusually large cohorts will experience adverse labor market conditions relative to the members of the smaller cohorts that bracket them. Drawing on data from the March Current Population Survey for the period spanning 1974–2004, we examine the influence of relative cohort size on underemployment. The results provide modest support for the Easterlin thesis, showing the odds of underemployment to be greatest among members of relatively large cohorts, net of other significant predictors. The results also show that the impact of relative cohort size differs by educational level, suggesting that adverse economic conditions produced by large cohort size can be offset by broader changes in the labor market and other social institutions.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 3, 2008
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