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Be Fruitful and Multiply? Moderate Fecundity and Long-Run Reproductive Success

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  • Galor, Oded
  • Klemp, Marc

Abstract

This research presents the first evidence that moderate fecundity was conducive long-run reproductive success within the human species. Exploiting an extensive genealogy record for nearly half a million individuals in Quebec during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the study traces the number of descendants of early inhabitants in the subsequent four generations. Using the time interval between the date of marriage and the first live birth as a measure of reproductive capacity, the research establishes that while a higher fecundity is associated with a larger number of children, an intermediate level maximizes long-run reproductive success. The finding further indicates that the optimal level of fecundity was below the population median, suggesting that the forces of natural selection favored individuals with a lower level of fecundity. The research lends credence to the hypothesis that during the Malthusian epoch, natural selection favored individuals with a larger predisposition towards child quality, contributing to the onset of the demographic transition and the evolution of societies from an epoch of stagnation to sustained economic growth.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 52049.

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Date of creation: 07 Dec 2013
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:52049

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Keywords: Demography; Evolution; Natural Selection; Fecundity; Quantity-Quality Trade-Off; Long-Run Reproductive Success; Development; Growth;

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  1. Bisin, A. & Verdier, T., 1999. "Beyond the Melting Pot: Cultural Transmission, Marriage, and the Evolution of Ethnic and Religious Traits," Papers, Laval - Laboratoire Econometrie 1999-10, Laval - Laboratoire Econometrie.
  2. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2011. "The "Out of Africa" Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity, and Comparative Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 17216, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jorgen W. Weibull, 1997. "Evolutionary Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262731215, December.
  4. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Natural Selection and the Origin of economic Growth," Working Papers 2000-18, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  5. Galor, Oded, 2005. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 171-293 Elsevier.
  6. Oded Galor & Stelios Michalopoulos, 2011. "Evolution and the Growth Process: Natural Selection of Entrepreneurial Traits," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000116, David K. Levine.
  7. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2007. "The Diffusion of Development," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0704, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  8. Lind, Jo Thori & Mehlum, Halvor, 2007. "With or Without U? The appropriate test for a U shaped relationship," Memorandum, Oslo University, Department of Economics 21/2007, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  9. Becker, Sascha O. & Cinnirella, Francesco & Wößmann, Ludger, 2010. "The trade-off between fertility and education: Evidence from before the demographic transition," Munich Reprints in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics 20196, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  10. Lagerl F, Nils-Petter, 2007. "Long-Run Trends In Human Body Mass," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(03), pages 367-387, June.
  11. Weber, Ernst Juerg, 1996. " Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(3), pages 357-65, September.
  12. Galor, Oded & Weil, David, 1999. "From Malthusian Stagnation to Modern Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 2082, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Samuel Bowles, 1998. "Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 75-111, March.
  14. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 2000. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
  15. Jason Collins & Boris Baer & Ernst Juerg Weber, 2011. "Economic Growth And Evolution: Parental Preference For Quality And Quantity Of Offspring," Economics Discussion / Working Papers, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics 11-05, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
  16. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2007. "The Neolithic Revolution and Contemporary Variations in Life Expectancy," Working Papers 2007-14, Brown University, Department of Economics.
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