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Human Capital and Fertility in Chinese Clans Before Modern Growth

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  • Shiue, Carol Hua

Abstract

This paper studies the pre-industrial origins of modern-day fertility decline. The setting is in Anhwei Province, China over the 13th to 19th centuries, a period well before the onset of China’s demographic transition and industrialization. There are four main results. First, we observe non-Malthusian effects in which high income households had relatively fewer children. Second, higher income households had relatively more educated sons, consistent with their greater ability to support major educational investments. Third, those households that invested in education had fewer children, suggesting that households producing educated children were reallocating resources away from child quantity and towards child quality. Fourth, over time, demand for human capital fell significantly. The most plausible reason is the declining returns to educational investments. The findings point to a role for demography in explaining China’s failure to industrialize early on.

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  • Shiue, Carol Hua, 2013. "Human Capital and Fertility in Chinese Clans Before Modern Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 9746, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9746
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    Cited by:

    1. Carol H. SHIUE, 2016. "A Culture of Kinship: Chinese Genealogies as a Souce for Research in Demographic Economics," JODE - Journal of Demographic Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 82(4), pages 459-482, December.
    2. Lee, Wang-Sheng & Li, Ben G., 2021. "Extreme weather and mortality: Evidence from two millennia of Chinese elites," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C).
    3. Ogasawara, Kota & Komura, Mizuki, 2020. "Consequences of War: Japan's Demographic Transition and the Marriage Market," IZA Discussion Papers 13885, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Keller, Wolfgang & Shiue, Carol H, 2020. "China's Foreign Trade and Investment, 1800 - 1950," CEPR Discussion Papers 15090, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Wang-Sheng Lee & Ben G. Li, 2019. "Extreme Weather and Long-term Health: Evidence from Two Millennia of Chinese Elites," CEH Discussion Papers 09, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Demographic transition; Economic history of China; Fertility; Human capital;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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