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Fecundity, Fertility and Family Reconstitution Data: The Child Quantity-Quality Trade-O Revisite

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  • Klemp, Marc P B
  • Weisdorf, Jacob

Abstract

Growth theorists have recently argued that western nations grew rich by parents substituting child quantity (number of births) for child quality (education). Using family reconstitution data from historical England, we explore the causal link between family size and human capital of offspring measured by their literacy status and professional skills. We use a proxy of marital fecundity to instrument family size, finding that children of couples of low fecundity (and hence small families) were more likely to become literate and employed in a skilled profession than those born to couples of high fecundity (and hence large families). Robust to a variety of specifications, our findings are unusually supportive of the notion of a child quantity-quality trade-off, suggesting this could well have played a key role for the wealth of nations.

Suggested Citation

  • Klemp, Marc P B & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2012. "Fecundity, Fertility and Family Reconstitution Data: The Child Quantity-Quality Trade-O Revisite," CEPR Discussion Papers 9121, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9121
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    2. Battaglia, Marianna & Chabé-Ferret, Bastien & Lebedinski, Lara, 2017. "Segregation and Fertility: The Case of the Roma in Serbia," IZA Discussion Papers 10929, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. de la Croix, David & Perrin, Faustine, 2018. "How far can economic incentives explain the French fertility and education transition?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 221-245.
    4. Brezis, Elise S. & Ferreira, Rodolphe Dos Santos, 2016. "Endogenous Fertility With A Sibship Size Effect," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(8), pages 2046-2066, December.
    5. David de la Croix & Clara Delavallade, 2018. "Religions, Fertility, And Growth In Southeast Asia," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 59(2), pages 907-946, May.
    6. Guillaume Daudin & Raphaël Franck & Hillel Rapoport, 2016. "The cultural diffusion of the fertility transition: evidence from internal migration in 19 th century France," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-01321952, HAL.
    7. Tepper, Alexander & Borowiecki, Karol Jan, 2015. "Accounting for breakout in Britain: The industrial revolution through a Malthusian lens," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 219-233.
    8. Hatton, Timothy J., 2015. "Stature and Sibship: Historical Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 10675, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Carol H. Shiue, 2017. "Human capital and fertility in Chinese clans before modern growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 351-396, December.
    10. David de la Croix & Faustine Perrin, 2016. "French Fertility and Education Transition: Rational Choice vs. Cultural Diffusion," LIDAM Discussion Papers IRES 2016007, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    11. Alexandra de Pleijt & Alessandro Nuvolari & Jacob Weisdorf, 2020. "Human Capital Formation During the First Industrial Revolution: Evidence from the use of Steam Engines," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 18(2), pages 829-889.
    12. Casey, Gregory & Galor, Oded, 2014. "Population Dynamics and Long-Run Economic Growth," MPRA Paper 62598, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Tommy Murphy, 2015. "Old habits die hard (sometimes)," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 177-222, June.
    14. Alan Fernihough & Mark McGovern, 2014. "Do fertility transitions influence infant mortality declines? Evidence from early modern Germany," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 27(4), pages 1145-1163, October.
    15. Carolyn Chisadza & Manoel Bittencourt, 2015. "Education and Fertility: Panel Evidence from sub-Saharan Africa," Working Papers 201526, University of Pretoria, Department of Economics.
    16. Guldi, Melanie & Rahman, Ahmed S., 2022. "Little Divergence in America — Market Access and Demographic Transition in the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 15215, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Child Quantity-Quality Trade-Off; Demographic Transition; Human Capital Formation; Industrial Revolution; Instrumental Variable Analysis;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

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