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Childlessness, celibacy and net fertility in pre-industrial England: the middle-class evolutionary advantage

Author

Listed:
  • David de la Croix

    () (UCLouvain
    CEPR)

  • Eric B. Schneider

    () (CEPR
    London School of Economics)

  • Jacob Weisdorf

    () (CEPR
    University of Southern Denmark
    CAGE
    University of Rome La Sapienza)

Abstract

Abstract This paper reconsiders the fertility of historical social groups by accounting for singleness and childlessness. We find that the middle class had the highest reproductive success during England’s early industrial development. In light of the greater propensity of the middle class to invest in human capital, the rise in the prevalence of these traits in the population could have been instrumental to England’s economic success. Unlike earlier results about the survival of the richest, the paper shows that the reproductive success of the rich (and also the poor) were lower than that of the middle class, once accounting for singleness and childlessness. Hence, the prosperity of England over this period can be attributed to the increase in the prevalence of middle-class traits rather than those of the upper (or lower) class.

Suggested Citation

  • David de la Croix & Eric B. Schneider & Jacob Weisdorf, 2019. "Childlessness, celibacy and net fertility in pre-industrial England: the middle-class evolutionary advantage," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 223-256, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jecgro:v:24:y:2019:i:3:d:10.1007_s10887-019-09170-6
    DOI: 10.1007/s10887-019-09170-6
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fertility; Marriage; Childlessness; European marriage pattern; Industrial revolution; Evolutionary advantage; Social class;

    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
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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