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The Western European Marriage Pattern and Economic Development

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Abstract

For several centuries, women's age at first marriage in Western Europe was higher than in the east (and in the rest of the world). Over the same period Western Europe began slow but sustained economic development relative to elsewhere. A model based on the economics of the household explains this association in two related ways. Both connect mortality, and the exercise of fertility restraint through higher marriage age, with greater human capital accumulation. The first explanation is simply an association but the second proposes a causal link where higher age of motherhood reduced the cost of investment in children. Evidence is provided that the causal process was operative in later nineteenth century Europe

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  • Foreman-Peck, James, 2009. "The Western European Marriage Pattern and Economic Development," Cardiff Economics Working Papers E2009/15, Cardiff University, Cardiff Business School, Economics Section.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdf:wpaper:2009/15
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Human Capital; Household Production; Economic Development; 19th Century Europe;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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