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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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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. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2007. "The Neolithic Revolution and Contemporary Variations in Life Expectancy," Working Papers 2007-14, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  2. Spolaore, Enrico & Wacziarg, Romain, 2006. "The Diffusion of Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 5630, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Weber, Ernst Juerg, 1996. " Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(3), pages 357-65, September.
  4. 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.
  5. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Natural Selection and the Origin of economic Growth," Working Papers 2000-18, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  6. Oded Galor, 2004. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," GE, Growth, Math methods 0409003, EconWPA.
  7. Bisin, A. & Verdier, T., 1999. "Beyond the Melting Pot : Cultural Transmission, Marriage, and the Evolution of Ethnic and Religious Traits," DELTA Working Papers 1999-10, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  8. Sascha O. Becker & Francesco Cinnirella & Ludger Woessmann, 2009. "The Trade-off between Fertility and Education: Evidence from before the Demographic Transition," CESifo Working Paper Series 2775, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. Lagerl F, Nils-Petter, 2007. "Long-Run Trends In Human Body Mass," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(03), pages 367-387, June.
  10. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 1999. "From Malthusian Stagnation to Modern Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 150-154, May.
  11. Oded Galor & Stelios Michalopoulos, 2011. "Evolution and the Growth Process: Natural Selection of Entrepreneurial Traits," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000116, David K. Levine.
  12. Lind, Jo Thori & Mehlum, Halvor, 2007. "With or Without U? - The appropriate test for a U shaped relationship," MPRA Paper 4823, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Oded Galor, 2005. "Unified Growth Theory," Development and Comp Systems 0504001, EconWPA.
  14. 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.
  15. Collins, Jason & Baer, Boris & Weber, Ernst Juerg, 2014. "Economic Growth And Evolution: Parental Preference For Quality And Quantity Of Offspring," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(08), pages 1773-1796, December.
  16. Jorgen W. Weibull, 1997. "Evolutionary Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262731215, June.
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