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What Do Women Do?: World Population Growth and Fertility Patterns, 1960-2000


  • Enriqueta Camps
  • Stanley Engerman


In this paper we attempt to describe the general picture reasons behind the world population explosion during the 20th century. In general we comment that if, according to some, at the end of the 20th century there were too many people, this was has a consequence of scientific innovation, circulation of information, and economic growth, leading to a dramatic improvement in life expectancies. Nevertheless, a crucial variable shaping differences in demographic growth is fertility. In this paper we identify as important exogenous variables affecting fertility female education levels, infant mortality, and racial identity and diversity. It is estimated that three additional years of schooling for mothers leads on average (at the world level ) to one child less per couple. Even if we can identify a worldwide trend towards convergence in demographic trends, the African case needs to be given more attention, not only because of its different demographic patterns, but also because this is the continent where the worldwide movement towards a higher quality of life has not yet been achieved for an important share of the world's population.

Suggested Citation

  • Enriqueta Camps & Stanley Engerman, 2008. "What Do Women Do?: World Population Growth and Fertility Patterns, 1960-2000," Working Papers 363, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:363

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Galor, Oded & Weil, David N, 1996. "The Gender Gap, Fertility, and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 374-387, June.
    2. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert Tamura, 1994. "Human Capital, Fertility, and Economic Growth," NBER Chapters,in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 323-350 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Moradi, Alexander & Baten, Joerg, 2005. "Inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa: New Data and New Insights from Anthropometric Estimates," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(8), pages 1233-1265, August.
    4. Barro, Robert J & Lee, Jong-Wha, 2001. "International Data on Educational Attainment: Updates and Implications," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(3), pages 541-563, July.
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    More about this item


    fertility; human capital; infant mortality; race; population growth;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy


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