Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Do Fertility Transitions Influence Infant Mortality Declines? Evidence from Early Modern Germany


Author Info

  • Alan Fernihough

    (Institute for International Integration Studies, Trinity College Dublin)

  • Mark E. McGovern

    (Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies)


The timing and sequencing of fertility transitions and early-life mortality declines in historical Western societies indicates that reductions in sibship (number of siblings) may have contributed to improvements in infant health. Surprisingly however, this demographic relationship has received little attention in empirical research. We outline the theoretical difficulties associated with establishing the causal effect of sibship on infant mortality, and provide evidence on the inherent bias associated with conventional empirical approaches. We offer a solution that permits an empirical test of this relationship whilst accounting for reverse causality. Our approach is illustrated by evaluating the causal impact of sibship on infant mortality using genealogical data from 13 German parishes spanning the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Overall, our findings do not support the hypothesis that declining fertility led to increased infant survival probabilities in historical populations.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL:
Our checks indicate that this address may not be valid because: 404 Not Found. If this is indeed the case, please notify (Günther Fink)
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Program on the Global Demography of Aging in its series PGDA Working Papers with number 10513.

as in new window
Date of creation: Jul 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:gdm:wpaper:10513

Contact details of provider:
Web page:
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords: Demographic Transition; Family Size; Early Life Conditions; Infant Mortality;

Other versions of this item:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.


Blog mentions

As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. #HEJC papers for September 2013
    by academichealtheconomists in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2013-08-31 23:01:38
  2. Do Fertility Transitions Influence Infant Mortality Declines? Evidence from Early Modern Germany
    by Mark McGovern in Economics, Psychology and Policy on 2014-03-24 18:08:00


This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


Access and download statistics


When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:gdm:wpaper:10513. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Günther Fink).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.