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Do fertility transitions influence infant mortality declines? Evidence from early modern Germany

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  • Alan Fernihough
  • Mark McGovern

Abstract

The timing and sequencing of fertility transitions and early-life mortality declines in historical Western societies indicate that reductions in sibship (number of siblings) may have contributed to improvements in infant health. Surprisingly, however, this demographic relationship has received little attention in empirical research. We outline the difficulties associated with establishing the effect of sibship on infant mortality and discuss the inherent bias associated with conventional empirical approaches. We offer a solution that permits an empirical test of this relationship while accounting for reverse causality and potential omitted variable bias. Our approach is illustrated by evaluating the causal impact of family size on infant mortality using genealogical data from 13 German parishes spanning the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. Overall, our findings do not support the hypothesis that declining fertility led to increased infant survival probabilities in historical populations. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

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  • Alan Fernihough & Mark McGovern, 2014. "Do fertility transitions influence infant mortality declines? Evidence from early modern Germany," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 27(4), pages 1145-1163, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:27:y:2014:i:4:p:1145-1163
    DOI: 10.1007/s00148-014-0506-z
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. #HEJC papers for September 2013
      by academichealtheconomists in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2013-09-01 04:01:38
    2. Do Fertility Transitions Influence Infant Mortality Declines? Evidence from Early Modern Germany
      by Mark McGovern in Economics, Psychology and Policy on 2014-03-24 23:08:00

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    1. Alan Fernihough & Mark McGovern, 2014. "Do fertility transitions influence infant mortality declines? Evidence from early modern Germany," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 27(4), pages 1145-1163, October.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Demographic transition; Family size; Early life conditions; Infant mortality; D13; I15; J13; O12;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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