Old Habits Die Hard (Sometimes) Can département heterogeneity tell us something about the French fertility decline??
Recent developments in endogenous growth theory suggest fertility decline in the context of the demographic transition was crucial for achieving long-term growth, and that it was triggered by forces eminently economic in nature. It is then somewhat puzzling that France, which was not as industrialised as other parts of Europe, lead that decline. Taking advantage of the considerable internal heterogeneity, this paper looks within France for some answers. Using département level data for the last quarter of the nineteenth century, it studies the correlates of fertility estimating a 2SLS fixed-effects model. Results confirm the importance of some of the forces suggested by standard fertility choice models. Nevertheless, certain non-economic factors (such as secularisation) –for which I provide new measurements– also explain part of the variation. Spatial dependence turns out as well to be significant in all specifications of the model, suggesting some sort of diffusion was indeed taking place.
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