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The Trade-off between Fertility and Education: Evidence from before the Demographic Transition

Listed author(s):
  • Becker, Sascha O.

    ()

    (University of Warwick)

  • Cinnirella, Francesco

    ()

    (CESifo)

  • Woessmann, Ludger

    ()

    (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

The trade-off between child quantity and education is a crucial ingredient of unified growth models that explain the transition from Malthusian stagnation to modern growth. We present first evidence that such a trade-off indeed existed before the demographic transition, exploiting a unique census-based dataset of 334 Prussian counties in 1849. Estimating two separate instrumental-variable models that instrument education by landownership inequality and distance to Wittenberg and fertility by previous-generation fertility and sex-imbalance ratio, we find that causation between fertility and education runs both ways. Furthermore, education in 1849 predicts the fertility transition in 1880-1905.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4557.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2009
Publication status: published in: Journal of Economic Growth, 2010, 15 (3), 177–204
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4557
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