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Social Class and the Fertility Transition: A Critical Comment on the Statistical Results Reported in Simon Szreter's Fertility, Class and Gender in Britain, 1860-1940

Author

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  • Geoffrey Barnes

    () (Yale University)

  • Timothy Guinnane

    () (Department of Economics, Yale University)

Abstract

Simon Szreter’s book Fertility, Class, and Gender in Britain, 1860-1940 argues that social and economic class fails to explain the cross-sectional differences in marital fertility as reported in the 1911 census of England and Wales. Szreter’s conclusion made the book immediately influential, and it remains so. This finding matters a great deal for debates about the causes of the European fertility decline of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For decades scholars have argued whether the main forces at work were ideational or social and economic. This note reports a simple re-analysis of Szreter’s own data, which suggests that social class does explain cross-sectional differences in English marital fertility in 1911.

Suggested Citation

  • Geoffrey Barnes & Timothy Guinnane, 2010. "Social Class and the Fertility Transition: A Critical Comment on the Statistical Results Reported in Simon Szreter's Fertility, Class and Gender in Britain, 1860-1940," Working Papers 993, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:993
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    File URL: http://www.econ.yale.edu/growth_pdf/cdp993.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Paul David & Thomas Mroz & Warren Sanderson & Kenneth Wachter & David Weir, 1988. "Cohort parity analysis: Statistical estimates of the extent of fertility control," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 25(2), pages 163-188, May.
    2. Samuel H. Preston & Michael R. Haines, 1991. "Fatal Years: Child Mortality in Late Nineteenth-Century America," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number pres91-1.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:spr:demogr:v:54:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s13524-017-0568-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Simon Szreter, 2015. "Fertility, social class, gender, and the professional model: statistical explanation and historical significance," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 68(2), pages 707-722, May.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    fertility transition; 1911 Census of England and Wales;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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