Chapter 6: Population and Labor Force Summary A growing and expanding Antebellum America was marked by rapid population growth and increased urbanization. Additionally, many European immigrants came to the U.S. while slave trade ended in 1808. Birth rates began their secular decline and the average size of the family began to shrink. The economic underpinnings of each trend and the trend’s impact on economic growth are presented in this chapter. Key Terms and Concepts Durable consumption goods External economies Immigration Income and wealth distribution Indentured servitude Innovations Investment goods Labor force Life-cycle explanation Population Productivity Slavery Strategic bequest Targeted bequest Walker thesis Wealth Teaching Tips 1. Ask students to explain the role of a productive labor force in a growing and prospering economy. Now lead them into a discussion of how population growth can both help and hinder economic growth. (Population growth provides more labor to produce goods and services and, at the same time, it creates more mouths to feed. Consider population growth in India today and compare it to growth in colonial America. Distinguish the roles of population growth in these two “country” cases.) 2. Economic forces can explain why children can be treated as durable consumption goods or investment goods in different environments. Ask students to define each type of good. Use these definitions to explain why parents in urban areas would have motive to treat children as durable consumption goods while, at the same time, their rural counterparts with farms would have incentive to treat children as investment goods. Link the students’ explanations to the witnessed drops in fertility rates, birth rates, and family sizes in both environments in the antebellum economy, which was characterized by increasing urbanization and less dependency on agriculture. 3. Unequal wealth and income distributions are correlated with an economy growing in size and scope, especially in the early stages of development. Ask students to describe what happened to wealth and income distributions in antebellum America. Invite them to discuss why these changes occurred and why they mattered. (These discussions on distribution will surface in future chapters.) 4. Incentives matter. Ask students to explain under which bequest motive, targeted or strategic, Easterlin could effectively argue that high and rising relative prices of good farm land would reduce the parent’s demand for extra children. (Targeted bequests: Children are expected to leave home and start their own households with no lingering responsibility to their parents. Parents give to their children out of self-sacrifice, expecting no return. ) 5. Explain why immigrants became increasingly more important to U.S. economic growth in the years leading up to the Civil War. Identify the push and pull factors behind the massive migration of human beings during this period of U.S. history.