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Fecundity, Fertility and The Formation of Human Capital

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  • Marc Klemp
  • Jacob Weisdorf

Abstract

Exploiting a genealogy of English individuals living in the 16th to the 19th centuries, this study shows that lower parental reproductive capacity positively affected the socio-economic achievements of offspring. Using the time interval between the date of marriage and the first birth as a measure of reproductive capacity, we find that parental fecundity positively affected the number of siblings and that children of parents with lower fecundity were more likely to become literate and employed in skilled and high-income professions. This suggests there was a trade-off between child quantity and quality in England during the industrial revolution, supporting leading theories of the origins of modern economic growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Marc Klemp & Jacob Weisdorf, 2019. "Fecundity, Fertility and The Formation of Human Capital," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 129(618), pages 925-960.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:econjl:v:129:y:2019:i:618:p:925-960.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/ecoj.12589
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    1. repec:spr:cliomt:v:13:y:2019:i:1:d:10.1007_s11698-017-0166-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:afc:cliome:v:13:y:2019:i:1:p:25-54 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Sandra Brée & David de la Croix, 2019. "Key forces behind the decline of fertility: lessons from childlessness in Rouen before the industrial revolution," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 13(1), pages 25-54, January.
    4. Aaronson, Daniel & Dehejia, Rajeev & Jordon, Andrew & Pop-Eleches, Cristian & Samii, Cyrus & Schultze, Karl, 2017. "The Effect of Fertility on Mothers’ Labor Supply over the Last Two Centuries," MPRA Paper 76768, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Alan Fernihough, 2017. "Human capital and the quantity–quality trade-off during the demographic transition," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 35-65, March.
    6. Fernihough, Alan, 2017. "Less is More? The child quantity-quality trade-off in early 20th century England and Wales," QUCEH Working Paper Series 2017-07, Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History.
    7. repec:spr:demogr:v:56:y:2019:i:4:d:10.1007_s13524-019-00787-1 is not listed on IDEAS

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