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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," The 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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    2. Claude Diebolt & Tapas Mishra & Faustine Perrin, 2019. "Gender Equality as an Enforcer of Individuals’ Choice between Education and Fertility: Evidence from 19th Century France," Working Papers 12-19, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC).
    3. James Foreman-Peck & Peng Zhou, 2021. "Fertility versus productivity: a model of growth with evolutionary equilibria," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 34(3), pages 1073-1104, July.
    4. Nicholas Ford & Kristin Ranestad & Paul Sharp, 2022. "Leaving Their Mark: Using Danish Student Grade Lists to Construct a More Detailed Measure of Historical Human Capital," Rivista di storia economica, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 1, pages 29-56.
    5. Marianna BATTAGLIA & Bastien CHABÉ-FERRET & Lara LEBEDINSKI, 2021. "Segregation, fertility, and son preference: the case of the Roma in Serbia," JODE - Journal of Demographic Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 87(2), pages 233-260, June.
    6. Horrell, Sara & Humphries, Jane & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2020. "Malthus's missing women and children: demography and wages in historical perspective, England 1280-1850," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 129(C).
    7. Diebolt, Claude & Mishra, Tapas & Perrin, Faustine, 2021. "Gender empowerment as an enforcer of individuals’ choice between education and fertility: Evidence from 19th century France," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 188(C), pages 408-438.
    8. Billington, Stephen D., 2021. "What explains patenting behaviour during Britain’s Industrial Revolution?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 82(C).
    9. Chu, Angus & Cozzi, Guido & Fan, Haichao, 2022. "Natural Selection and Innovation-Driven Growth," MPRA Paper 113502, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Francesco Cinnirella & Marc Klemp & Jacob Weisdorf, 2019. "Further Evidence of Within-Marriage Fertility Control in Pre-Transitional England," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 56(4), pages 1557-1572, August.
    11. Oded Galor & Marc Klemp, 2019. "Human Genealogy Reveals a Selective Advantage to Moderate Fecundity," Working Papers 2019-1, Brown University, Department of Economics.

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