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Human Genealogy Reveals a Selective Advantage to Moderate Fecundity

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  • Oded Galor
  • Marc Klemp

Abstract

"This research presents the first evidence that moderate fecundity had maximized long-run reproductive success in the human population. Using a reconstructed genealogy for nearly half a million individuals in Quebec during the 1608–1800 period, we find that while a high fecundity was associated with a larger number of children, perhaps paradoxically, a moderate fecundity had maximized the number of descendants after several generations. Moreover, the finding suggests that the level of fecundity that maximized long-run reproductive success was above the population average, indicating that natural selection had decreased the level of fecundity in the population over this period. This evolutionary process may have contributed to the onset of the demographic transition and thus to the evolution of societies to an era of sustained economic growth."

Suggested Citation

  • Oded Galor & Marc Klemp, 2019. "Human Genealogy Reveals a Selective Advantage to Moderate Fecundity," Working Papers 2019-1, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bro:econwp:2019-1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. David de la Croix & Eric B. Schneider & Jacob Weisdorf, 2019. "Childlessness, celibacy and net fertility in pre-industrial England: the middle-class evolutionary advantage," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 223-256, September.
    2. 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.
    3. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner & Karen A. Kopecky, 2019. "The Wife’s Protector: A Quantitative Theory Linking Contraceptive Technology with the Decline in Marriage," NBER Working Papers 26410, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Guillaume Blanc, 2020. "Demographic Change and Development from Crowdsourced Genealogies in Early Modern Europe," Working Papers hal-02922398, HAL.
    5. Fabian Siuda & Uwe Sunde, 2021. "Disease and demographic development: the legacy of the plague," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 1-30, March.
    6. Ashraf, Quamrul H. & Galor, Oded & Klemp, Marc, 2020. "The Ancient Origins of the Wealth of Nations," CEPR Discussion Papers 15345, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Peter Sandholt Jensen & Maja Uhre Pedersen & Cristina Victoria Radu & Paul Richard Sharp, 2020. "Arresting the Sword of Damocles: Dating the Transition to the Post-Malthusian Era in Denmark," Working Papers 0182, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    8. Ranoua Bouchouicha & Ferdinand M. Vieider, 2019. "Growth, entrepreneurship, and risk-tolerance: a risk-income paradox," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 257-282, September.

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