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How the West "Invented" Fertility Restriction

  • Nico Voigtl?nder
  • Hans-Joachim Voth

We analyze the emergence of the first socioeconomic institution in history limiting fertility: west of a line from St. Petersburg to Trieste, the European Marriage Pattern (EMP) reduced childbirths by approximately one-third between the fourteenth and eighteenth century. To explain the rise of EMP we build a two-sector model of agricultural production?grain and livestock. Women have a comparative advantage in animal husbandry. After the Black Death in 1348?1350, land abundance triggered a shift toward the pastoral sector. This improved female employment prospects, leading to later marriages. Using detailed data from England, we provide strong evidence for our mechanism.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 103 (2013)
Issue (Month): 6 (October)
Pages: 2227-64

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:103:y:2013:i:6:p:2227-64
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.6.2227
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