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How the West "Invented" Fertility Restriction

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  • Nico Voigtl?nder
  • Hans-Joachim Voth

Abstract

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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  • Nico Voigtl?nder & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2013. "How the West "Invented" Fertility Restriction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(6), pages 2227-2264, October.
  • 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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    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N53 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • Q11 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Aggregate Supply and Demand Analysis; Prices

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