Malthus in the Bedroom: Birth Spacing as a Preventive Check Mechanism in Pre-Modern England
AbstractWe question the received wisdom that birth limitation was absent among historical populations before the fertility transition of the late nineteenth-century. Using duration and panel models on individual data, we find a causal negative effect of living standards on birth spacing in the three centuries preceding England's fertility transition. While the effect could be driven by biology in the case of the poor, a significant effect among the rich suggests that spacing worked as a control mechanism in pre-modern England. Our findings support the Malthusian preventive check hypothesis and rationalize England's historical leadership as a low population-pressure, high-wage economy.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 9116.
Date of creation: Sep 2012
Date of revision:
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Other versions of this item:
- Francesco Cinnirella & Marc P. B. Klemp & Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2012. "Malthus in the Bedroom: Birth Spacing as a Preventive Check Mechanism in Pre-Modern England," CESifo Working Paper Series 3936, CESifo Group Munich.
- J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
- J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
- N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2012-09-09 (All new papers)
- NEP-EVO-2012-09-09 (Evolutionary Economics)
- NEP-HIS-2012-09-09 (Business, Economic & Financial History)
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