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The Trade-off between Fertility and Education: Evidence from before the Demographic Transition

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  • Sascha Becker
  • Francesco Cinnirella
  • Ludger Woessmann
  • Sascha O. Becker

Abstract

The trade-off between child quantity and education is a crucial ingredient of unified growth models that explain the transition from Malthusian stagnation to modern growth. We present first evidence that such a trade-off indeed existed before the demographic transition, exploiting a unique census-based dataset of 334 Prussian counties in 1849. Estimating two separate instrumental-variable models that instrument education by landownership inequality and distance to Wittenberg and fertility by previous-generation fertility and sex-imbalance ratio, we find that causation between fertility and education runs both ways. Furthermore, education in 1849 predicts the fertility transition in 1880-1905.

Suggested Citation

  • Sascha Becker & Francesco Cinnirella & Ludger Woessmann & Sascha O. Becker, 2009. "The Trade-off between Fertility and Education: Evidence from before the Demographic Transition," CESifo Working Paper Series 2775, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2775
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    schooling; fertility transition; unified growth theory; 19th-century Prussia;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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