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Was Malthus right? A VAR analysis of economic and demographic interactions in pre-industrial England

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  • NICOLINI, ESTEBAN A.

Abstract

This article shows that the interaction between economic and demographic variables in England before the onset of modern economic growth did not fit some crucial assumptions of the Malthusian model. I estimated a vector autoregression for data on fertility, mortality and real wages over the period 1541 1840 applying a well-known identification strategy broadly used in macroeconomics. The results show that endogenous adjustment of population to real wages functioned as Malthus assumed only until the seventeenth century: positive checks disappeared during the seventeenth century and preventive checks disappeared before 1740. This implies that the endogenous adjustment of population levels to changes in real wages one of the cornerstones of the Malthusian model did not work during an important part of the period usually considered within the Malthusian regime .

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal European Review of Economic History.

Volume (Year): 11 (2007)
Issue (Month): 01 (April)
Pages: 99-121

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Handle: RePEc:cup:ereveh:v:11:y:2007:i:01:p:99-121_00

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  1. Tsoulouhas, Theofanis C., 1992. "A new look at demographic and technological changes: England, 1550 to 1839," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 169-203, April.
  2. Nicolini, Esteban A., 2004. "Mortality, interest rates, investment, and agricultural production in 18th century England," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 130-155, April.
  3. Kogel, Tomas & Prskawetz, Alexia, 2001. " Agricultural Productivity Growth and Escape from the Malthusian Trap," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 337-57, December.
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  8. Gary D. Hansen & Edward C. Prescott, 1999. "Malthus to Solow," Staff Report 257, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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  10. John Knodel, 1987. "Starting, stopping, and spacing during the early stages of fertility transition: The experience of German village populations in the 18th and 19th centuries," Demography, Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 143-162, May.
  11. Nils-Petter Lagerl–f, 2003. "From Malthus to Modern Growth: Can Epidemics Explain the Three Regimes?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(2), pages 755-777, 05.
  12. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 1997. "Monetary policy shocks: what have we learned and to what end?," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-97-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  13. Kremer, Michael, 1993. "Population Growth and Technological Change: One Million B.C. to 1990," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 681-716, August.
  14. Allen, Robert C., 2001. "The Great Divergence in European Wages and Prices from the Middle Ages to the First World War," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 411-447, October.
  15. Crafts, N. F. R. & Ireland, N. J., 1976. "Family Limitation and the English Demographic Revolution: A Simulation Approach," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 36(03), pages 598-623, September.
  16. E. A. Wrigley, 1966. "Family Limitation in Pre-Industrial England," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 19(1), pages 82-109, 04.
  17. Tommy Bengtsson & Cameron Campbell & James Z. Lee, 2004. "Life Under Pressure: Mortality and Living Standards in Europe and Asia, 1700-1900," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262025515, December.
  18. Eckstein, Zvi & Schultz, T. Paul & Wolpin, Kenneth I., 1984. "Short-run fluctuations in fertility and mortality in pre-industrial Sweden," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 295-317, December.
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