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Fertility, Non-Altruism and Economic Growth: Industrialization in the Nineteenth Century


  • Elise s. Brezis

    () (Department of Economics, Bar Ilan University)


This paper presents a model of fertility, which is specific for the industrialization that took place during the nineteenth century and which was concurrent with the demographic transition that occurred over the period. While previous research on demographic transition assumed altruism as the main element explaining the increase in fertility rates, this paper does not, since altruism seems irrelevant over this period. The relationship between parents and children is part of a whole set of values and social norms that evolved over time and were affected by changes in the economic environment. In the nineteenth century, parental behavior was not compatible with altruism. I therefore present a model that suits the social norms of the nineteenth century. The value that seems to correspond to the legal system and social norms regarding the parent-child relationship of the period of industrialization is perpetuation. Due to a budget constraint on workers, perpetuation is displayed differently in different social classes. This paper will therefore focus on the interaction between the different social classes and show how industrialization is linked to demographic transition.

Suggested Citation

  • Elise s. Brezis, 2002. "Fertility, Non-Altruism and Economic Growth: Industrialization in the Nineteenth Century," Working Papers 2002-14, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:biu:wpaper:2002-14

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    Cited by:

    1. Rapoport, Hillel & Vidal, Jean-Pierre, 2007. "Economic growth and endogenous intergenerational altruism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(7-8), pages 1231-1246, August.
    2. Luc Arrondel & Cyril Grange, 2006. "Transmission and inequality of wealth: An empirical study of wealth mobility from 1800 to 1938 in France," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 4(2), pages 209-232, August.

    More about this item


    altruism; social classes; demographic transition; capital; proletariat; fertility; growth.;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General


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