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"Decessit sine prole" - childlessness, celibacy, and survival of the richest in pre-industrial England

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  • de la Croix, David
  • Schneider, Eric B.
  • Weisdorf, Jacob

Abstract

In explaining England's early industrial development, previous research has highlighted that wealthy pre-industrial elites had more surviving offspring than their poorer counter- parts. Thus, entrepreneurial traits spread and helped England grow rich. We contest this view, showing that lowerclass reproduction rates were no different from the elites when accounting for singleness and childlessness. Elites married less and were more often childless. Many died without descendants (decessit sine prole). We find that the middle classes had the highest reproduction and argue that this advantage was instrumental to England's economic success because the middle class invested most strongly in human capital.

Suggested Citation

  • de la Croix, David & Schneider, Eric B. & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2018. ""Decessit sine prole" - childlessness, celibacy, and survival of the richest in pre-industrial England," Economic History Working Papers 87153, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:87153
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    fertility; marriage; childlessness; European marriage pattern; Industrial Revolution; evolutionary advantage; social class;

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • 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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