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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. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Natural Selection and the Origin of economic Growth," Working Papers 2000-18, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  2. Ashraf, Quamrul & Galor, Oded, 2011. "The 'Out of Africa' Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity, and Comparative Economic Development," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 8500, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2007. "The Neolithic Revolution and Contemporary Variations in Life Expectancy," Working Papers 2007-14, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  4. Wacziarg, Romain & Spolaore, Enrico, 2006. "The Diffusion of Development," Research Papers, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business 1898r1, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  5. Galor, Oded & Michalopoulos, Stelios, 2012. "Evolution and the growth process: Natural selection of entrepreneurial traits," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 147(2), pages 759-780.
  6. Lind, Jo Thori & Mehlum, Halvor, 2007. "With or Without U? - The appropriate test for a U shaped relationship," MPRA Paper 4823, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. 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.
  8. Becker, Sascha O. & Cinnirella, Francesco & Woessmann, Ludger, 2009. "The Trade-off between Fertility and Education: Evidence from before the Demographic Transition," IZA Discussion Papers 4557, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Galor, Oded, 2004. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 4581, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Weber, Ernst Juerg, 1996. " Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(3), pages 357-65, September.
  11. 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.
  12. Alberto Bisin & Thierry Verdier, 2000. ""Beyond The Melting Pot": Cultural Transmission, Marriage, And The Evolution Of Ethnic And Religious Traits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 955-988, August.
  13. Jorgen W. Weibull, 1997. "Evolutionary Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262731215, December.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
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