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Be Fruitful and Multiply? Moderate Fecundity and Long-Run Reproductive Success

  • Galor, Oded

    ()

    (Brown University)

  • Klemp, Marc

    ()

    (Brown University)

This research presents the first evidence that moderate fecundity was conducive for long-run reproductive success within the human species. Exploiting an extensive genealogy record for nearly half a million individuals in Quebec during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the study traces the number of descendants of early inhabitants in the subsequent four generations. Using the time interval between the date of marriage and the first live birth as a measure of reproductive capacity, the research establishes that while a higher fecundity is associated with a larger number of children, an intermediate level maximizes long-run reproductive success. The finding further indicates that the optimal level of fecundity was below the population median, suggesting that the forces of natural selection favored individuals with a lower level of fecundity. The research lends credence to the hypothesis that during the Malthusian epoch, natural selection favored individuals with a larger predisposition towards child quality, contributing to the onset of the demographic transition and the evolution of societies from an epoch of stagnation to sustained economic growth.

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp8025.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 8025.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8025
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  1. Lind, Jo Thori & Mehlum, Halvor, 2007. "With or Without U? The appropriate test for a U shaped relationship," Memorandum 21/2007, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  2. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2002. "Natural Selection And The Origin Of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1133-1191, November.
  3. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2010. "The "Out of Africa" Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity, and Comparative Economic Development," Working Papers 2010-7, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  4. Becker, Sascha O. & Cinnirella, Francesco & Wößmann, Ludger, 2010. "The trade-off between fertility and education: Evidence from before the demographic transition," Munich Reprints in Economics 20196, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  5. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2009. "The Diffusion of Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(2), pages 469-529, May.
  6. Bisin, A. & Verdier, T., 1999. "Beyond the Melting Pot: Cultural Transmission, Marriage, and the Evolution of Ethnic and Religious Traits," Papers 1999-10, Laval - Laboratoire Econometrie.
  7. Jorgen W. Weibull, 1997. "Evolutionary Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262731215, June.
  8. Galor, Oded & Michalopoulos, Stelios, 2011. "Evolution and the Growth Process: Natural Selection of Entrepreneurial Traits," CEPR Discussion Papers 8377, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Oded Galor, 2005. "Unified Growth Theory," Development and Comp Systems 0504001, EconWPA.
  10. Oded Galor, 2004. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," GE, Growth, Math methods 0409003, EconWPA.
  11. Samuel Bowles, 1998. "Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 75-111, March.
  12. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2007. "The Neolithic Revolution and Contemporary Variations in Life Expectancy," Working Papers 2007-14, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  13. Lagerl F, Nils-Petter, 2007. "Long-Run Trends In Human Body Mass," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(03), pages 367-387, June.
  14. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 2000. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
  15. Galor, Oded & Weil, David, 1999. "From Malthusian Stagnation to Modern Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 2082, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Weber, Ernst Juerg, 1996. " Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(3), pages 357-65, September.
  17. Jason Collins & Boris Baer & Ernst Juerg Weber, 2011. "Economic Growth And Evolution: Parental Preference For Quality And Quantity Of Offspring," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 11-05, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
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