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Institutions and Demographic Responses to Shocks: Württemberg, 1634-1870


  • Timothy Guinnane

    () (Department of Economics, Yale University)

  • Sheilagh Ogilvie

    () (University of Cambridge)


Simple Malthusian models remain an important tool for understanding pre-modern demographic systems and their connection to the economy. But most recent literature has lost sight of the institutional context for demographic behavior that lay at the heart of Malthus’s own analysis. This paper estimates a short-run version of a Malthusian model for two Württemberg communities from 1646 to 1870. Württemberg differed institutionally from the northwest European societies analyzed in previous studies. The impact of institutional differences shows clearly in differing demographic reactions to economic shocks. Mortality was less sensitive to shocks than one would expect, while nuptiality was especially sensitive.

Suggested Citation

  • Timothy Guinnane & Sheilagh Ogilvie, 2008. "Institutions and Demographic Responses to Shocks: Württemberg, 1634-1870," Working Papers 962, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:962

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Ogilvie, Sheilagh, 2003. "A Bitter Living: Women, Markets, and Social Capital in Early Modern Germany," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198205548, June.
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    6. Tommy Bengtsson & Martin Dribe, 2006. "Deliberate control in a natural fertility population: Southern Sweden, 1766–1864," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 43(4), pages 727-746, November.
    7. Sheilagh Ogilvie, 2004. "Guilds, efficiency, and social capital: evidence from German proto-industry," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 57(2), pages 286-333, May.
    8. Litterman, Robert B, 1983. "A Random Walk, Markov Model for the Distribution of Time Series," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 1(2), pages 169-173, April.
    9. Assaf Razin & Efraim Sadka, 1995. "Population Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262181606, January.
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    12. Ogilvie Sheilagh, 2005. "The Use and Abuse of Trust: Social Capital and its Deployment by Early Modern Guilds," Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte / Economic History Yearbook, De Gruyter, vol. 46(1), pages 15-52, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Robert Fenge & Beatrice Scheubel, 2017. "Pensions and fertility: back to the roots," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 30(1), pages 93-139, January.
    2. Timothy W. Guinnane & Sheilagh C. Ogilvie, 2013. "A Two-Tiered Demographic System: "Insiders" and "Outsiders" in Three Swabian Communities, 1558-1914," Working Papers 1021, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    3. Robert Fenge & Beatrice Scheubel, 2013. "Pensions and Fertility: Back to the Roots - The Introduction of Bismarck's Pension Scheme and the European Fertility Decline," CESifo Working Paper Series 4383, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Dennison, Tracy & Ogilvie, Sheilagh, 2014. "Does the European Marriage Pattern Explain Economic Growth?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 74(03), pages 651-693, September.
    5. Guinnane, Timothy W> & Martinez Rodriguez, Susana, 2012. "For Every Law, a Loophole: Flexibility in the Menu of Spanish Business Forms, 1886-1936," Working Papers 103, Yale University, Department of Economics.
    6. Timothy W. Guinnane, 2011. "The Historical Fertility Transition: A Guide for Economists," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(3), pages 589-614, September.
    7. Ulrich Pfister & Georg Fertig, 2010. "The population history of Germany: research strategy and preliminary results," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2010-035, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    8. Tommy E. Murphy, 2010. "Persistence of Malthus or Persistence in Malthus? Mortality, Income, and Marriage in the French Fertility Decline of the Long Nineteenth Century?," Working Papers 363, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    9. Ogilvie, Sheilagh & Carus, A.W., 2014. "Institutions and Economic Growth in Historical Perspective," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 8, pages 403-513 Elsevier.

    More about this item


    Malthusian models; mortality; fertility; nuptiality; guilds;

    JEL classification:

    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General

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