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