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Persistence of Malthus or Persistence in Malthus? Mortality, Income, and Marriage in the French Fertility Decline of the Long Nineteenth Century?

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  • Tommy E. Murphy

Abstract

This paper brings the French case into the current debate on Malthusian dynamics in early modern times. In particular, it studies the long-term evolution of aggregate variables, showing that nineteenth century France was hardly a Malthusian world in a strict sense. Homeostasis was maintained throughout the century and there were signs of a strong positive check, but if there was some sort of preventive check, this was not ‘written in stone’. The results of both cointegrated VAR and short-run analysis grant a reading where departure from the Malthusian world (if there ever was one) is due to a secular change in the relationship between income, marriages, and births. If this interpretation is correct, the fertility decline was instrumental in the sustained decline in mortalit1y during the century.

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  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:363
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    2. Alan Fernihough, 2013. "Malthusian Dynamics in a Diverging Europe: Northern Italy, 1650–1881," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 50(1), pages 311-332, February.
    3. Madsen, Jakob B. & Robertson, Peter E. & Ye, Longfeng, 2019. "Malthus was right: Explaining a millennium of stagnation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 51-68.
    4. Guinnane, Timothy W. & Marrinez Rodriguez, Susana, 2012. "For Every Law, a Loophole: Flexibility in the Menu of Spanish Business Forms, 1886-1936," Center Discussion Papers 123319, Yale University, Economic Growth Center.
    5. Leonardo Ridolfi, 2017. "Six centuries of real wages in France from Louis IX to Napoleon III: 1250-1860," LEM Papers Series 2017/14, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    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. Miikka Voutilainen, 2015. "Malthusian checks in pre-industrial Sweden and Finland: a comparative analysis of the demographic regimes," Scandinavian Economic History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 63(3), pages 235-259, November.
    8. Peter Sandholt Jensen & Maja Uhre Pedersen & Cristina Victoria Radu & Paul Richard Sharp, 2020. "Arresting the Sword of Damocles: Dating the Transition to the Post-Malthusian Era in Denmark," Working Papers 0182, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).

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