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The Toll of Tariffs: Protectionism, Education and Fertility in Late 19th Century France

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  • Bignon, Vincent
  • García-Peñalosa, Cecilia

Abstract

This paper examines a novel negative impact of trade tariffs and the costs they induce by documenting how protectionism reversed the long-term improvements in education and the fertility transition that were well under way in late 19th-century France. The Méline tariff, a tariff on cereals introduced in 1892, was a major protectionist shock that shifted relative prices in favor of agriculture and away from industry. In a context in which the latter was more intensive in skills than agriculture, the tariff reduced the relative return to education, which in turn affected parents’ decisions about the quantity and quality of children. We use regional differences in the importance of cereal production in the local economy to estimate the impact of the tariff. Our findings indicate that the tariff reduced enrolment in primary education and increased birth rates and fertility. The magnitude of these effects was substantial, with the tariff offsetting the increasing trend in enrolment rates and the decreasing one in birth rates by a decade.

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  • Bignon, Vincent & García-Peñalosa, Cecilia, 2021. "The Toll of Tariffs: Protectionism, Education and Fertility in Late 19th Century France," CEPR Discussion Papers 16069, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:16069
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrew E. Clark & Anthony Lepinteur, 2022. "A Natural Experiment on Job Insecurity and Fertility in France," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 104(2), pages 386-398, May.
    2. Vincent Bignon & Cecilia Garcia-Peñalosa, 2018. "The Toll of Tariffs: Protectionism, Education and Fertility in Late 19th Century France," Working papers 690, Banque de France.
    3. Osea Giuntella & Lorenzo Rotunno & Luca Stella, 2021. "Trade Shocks, Fertility, and Marital Behavior," DISCE - Working Papers del Dipartimento di Economia e Finanza def100, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
    4. Squicciarini, Mara, 2019. "Devotion and Development: Religiosity, Education, and Economic Progress in 19th-Century France," CEPR Discussion Papers 13877, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Kammas, Pantelis & Sakalis, Argyris & Sarantides, Vassilis, 2021. "Pudding, plague and education: trade and human capital formation in an agrarian economy," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 112206, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    6. Osea Giuntella & Lorenzo Rotunno & Luca Stella, 2022. "Globalization, Fertility and Marital Behavior in a Lowest-Low Fertility Setting," CESifo Working Paper Series 9755, CESifo.
    7. Youssouf Merouani & Faustine Perrin, 2022. "Gender and the long-run development process. A survey of the literature [Rethinking age heaping: A cautionary tale from nineteenth-century Italy]," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(4), pages 612-641.
    8. Mara P. Squicciarini, 2020. "Devotion and Development: Religiosity, Education, and Economic Progress in Nineteenth-Century France," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 110(11), pages 3454-3491, November.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Education; Fertility; Protectionism; France;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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