IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/egc/wpaper/990.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Historical Fertility Transition: A Guide for Economists

Author

Listed:
  • Timothy W. Guinnane

    () (Department of Economics, Yale University)

Abstract

The historical fertility transition is the process by which much of Europe and North America went from high to low fertility in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This transformation is central to recent accounts of long-run economic growth. Prior to the transition, women bore as many as eight children each, and the elasticity of fertility with respect to incomes was positive. Today, many women have no children at all, and the elasticity of fertility with respect to incomes is zero or even negative. This paper discusses the large literature on the historical fertility transition, focusing on what we do and do not know about the process. I stress some possible misunderstandings of the demographic literature, and discuss an agenda for future work.

Suggested Citation

  • Timothy W. Guinnane, 2010. "The Historical Fertility Transition: A Guide for Economists," Working Papers 990, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:990
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.econ.yale.edu/growth_pdf/cdp990.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert Tamura, 1994. "Human Capital, Fertility, and Economic Growth," NBER Chapters,in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 323-350 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1.
    3. Oded Galor, 2005. "The Demographic Transition and the Emergence of Sustained Economic Growth," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 494-504, 04/05.
    4. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1999. "Education and Income in the Early 20th Century: Evidence from the Prairies," NBER Working Papers 7217, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Hans-Peter Kohler & Francesco C. Billari & José Antonio Ortega, 2002. "The Emergence of Lowest-Low Fertility in Europe During the 1990s," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(4), pages 641-680.
    6. Tommy E. Murphy, 2010. "Old Habits Die Hard (Sometimes) Can département heterogeneity tell us something about the French fertility decline??," Working Papers 364, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    7. Galor, Oded, 2005. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 171-293 Elsevier.
    8. Oded Galor, 2006. "The Demographic Transition," Working Papers 2006-24, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    9. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2002. "The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women's Career and Marriage Decisions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 730-770, August.
    10. Sascha Becker & Francesco Cinnirella & Ludger Woessmann, 2010. "The trade-off between fertility and education: evidence from before the demographic transition," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 177-204, September.
    11. Michael R. Haines, 1994. "The Population of the United States, 1790-1920," NBER Historical Working Papers 0056, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Goldin, Claudia & Katz, Lawrence F., 2000. "Education and Income in the Early Twentieth Century: Evidence from the Prairies," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(03), pages 782-818, September.
    13. Barro, Robert J & Becker, Gary S, 1989. "Fertility Choice in a Model of Economic Growth," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 481-501, March.
    14. Guinnane, Timothy W. & Streb, Jochen, 2011. "Moral Hazard in a Mutual Health Insurance System: German Knappschaften, 1867–1914," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 71(01), pages 70-104, March.
    15. Timothy Guinnane & Barbara Okun & James Trussell, 1994. "What do we know about the timing of fertility transitions in europe?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 31(1), pages 1-20, February.
    16. Kocka, Jürgen, 1990. "Arbeitsverhältnisse und Arbeiterexistenzen: Grundlagen der Klassenbildung im 19. Jahrhundert," EconStor Books, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, volume 2, number 122875, March.
    17. Guinnane, Timothy W. & Ogilvie, Sheilagh, 2008. "Institutions and Demographic Responses to Shocks: Wurttemberg, 1634-1870," Working Papers 44, Yale University, Department of Economics.
    18. Robert T. Michael & Robert J. Willis, 1976. "Contraception and Fertility: Household Production under Uncertainty," NBER Chapters,in: Household Production and Consumption, pages 25-98 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Michael Anderson & Ronald Lee, 2002. "Malthus in state space: Macro economic-demographic relations in English history, 1540 to 1870," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 15(2), pages 195-220.
    20. Goldin, Claudia & Sokoloff, Kenneth, 1982. "Women, Children, and Industrialization in the Early Republic: Evidence from the Manufacturing Censuses," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(04), pages 741-774, December.
    21. Nicolini, Esteban A., 2007. "Was Malthus right? A VAR analysis of economic and demographic interactions in pre-industrial England," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(01), pages 99-121, April.
    22. John C. Brown & Timothy W. Guinnane, 2007. "Regions and time in the European fertility transition: problems in the Princeton Project's statistical methodology -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 60(3), pages 574-595, August.
    23. Martha J. Bailey, 2010. ""Momma's Got the Pill": How Anthony Comstock and Griswold v. Connecticut Shaped US Childbearing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 98-129, March.
    24. Khoudour-Castéras, David, 2008. "Welfare State and Labor Mobility: The Impact of Bismarck's Social Legislation on German Emigration before World War I," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(01), pages 211-243, March.
    25. Hoyt Bleakley & Fabian Lange, 2009. "Chronic Disease Burden and the Interaction of Education, Fertility, and Growth," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 52-65, February.
    26. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 2000. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
    27. Gary S. Becker & Robert J. Barro, 1988. "A Reformulation of the Economic Theory of Fertility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(1), pages 1-25.
    28. Niels Framroze Møller & Paul Sharp, 2008. "Malthus in Cointegration Space: A new look at living standards and population in pre-industrial England," Discussion Papers 08-16, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    29. Moehling, Carolyn M., 1999. "State Child Labor Laws and the Decline of Child Labor," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 72-106, January.
    30. Price V. Fishback & Shawn Everett Kantor, 2000. "A Prelude to the Welfare State: The Origins of Workers' Compensation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number fish00-1.
    31. Easterlin, Richard A., 1976. "Population Change and Farm Settlement in the Northern United States," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 36(01), pages 45-75, March.
    32. Easterlin, Richard A., 1981. "Why Isn't the Whole World Developed?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(01), pages 1-17, March.
    33. repec:zbw:rwirep:0163 is not listed on IDEAS
    34. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    fertility transition; long-run growth; Malthusian models; quantity-quality trade-off;

    JEL classification:

    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:990. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Louise Danishevsky). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/egyalus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.