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Childlessness, Celibacy and Net Fertility in Pre-Industrial England: The Middle-class Evolutionary Advantage

Author

Listed:
  • Croix, David de la

    (IRES, UCLouvain and CEPR)

  • Schneider, Eric B.

    (London School of Economics and CEPR)

  • Weisdorf, Jacob

    (University of Southern Denmark, CEPR, and CAGE)

Abstract

In explaining England’s early industrial development, previous research has highlighted that wealthy pre-industrial elites had more surviving offspring than their poorer counterparts. Thus, entrepreneurial traits spread and helped England grow rich. We contest this view, showing that lower-class reproduction rates were no different from the elites when taking singleness and childlessness into account. Elites married less and were more often childless. Many died without descendants. We find that the middle classes had the highest net reproduction and argue that this advantage was instrumental to England’s economic success because the middle class invested most strongly in human capital.

Suggested Citation

  • Croix, David de la & Schneider, Eric B. & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2019. "Childlessness, Celibacy and Net Fertility in Pre-Industrial England: The Middle-class Evolutionary Advantage," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 406, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cge:wacage:406
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Keywords

    Fertility; Marriage; Childlessness; European Marriage Pattern; Industrial Revolution; Evolutionary Advantage; Social Class JEL Classification: J12; J13; N33;

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • 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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