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

  • Sascha O. Becker
  • Francesco Cinnirella


  • Ludger Woessmann

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.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2775.

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Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2775
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