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Was Malthus Right? A Var Analysis Of Economic And Demographic Interactions In Pre-Industrial England

  • Esteban A. Nicolini


This paper shows that the interaction between economic and demographic variables in England before the onset of modern economic growth did not fit some crucial assumptions of the Malthusian model. I estimated a vector autoregression for data on fertility, nuptiality, mortality and real wages over the period 1541-1840 applying a well-known identification strategy broadly used in macroeconomics. The results show that endogenous adjustment of population to real wages functioned as Malthus assumed only until the 17th century: positive checks disappeared during the 17th century and preventive checks disappeared before 1740. This implies that the endogenous adjustment of population levels to changes in real wages -one of the cornerstones of the Malthusian model- did not work during an important part of the period usually considered within the “Malthusian regime”.

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Paper provided by Universidad Carlos III, Instituto Figuerola de Historia y Ciencias Sociales in its series Working Papers in Economic History with number wh060601.

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Date of creation: Feb 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cte:whrepe:wh060601
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