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The effect of investment in children’s education on fertility in 1816 Prussia

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  • Becker, Sascha O.
  • Cinnirella, Francesco
  • Wößmann, Ludger

Abstract

The interaction between investment in children’s education and parental fertility is crucial in recent theories of the transition from Malthusian stagnation to modern economic growth. This paper contributes to the literature on the child quantity-quality trade-off with new county-level evidence for Prussia in 1816, several decades before the demographic transition. We find a significant negative causal effect of education on fertility, which is robust to accounting for spatial autocorrelation. The causal effect of education is identified through exogenous variation in enrollment rates due to differences in landownership inequality. A comparison with estimates for 1849 suggests that the preference for quality relative to quantity might have increased during the first half of the nineteenth century.

Suggested Citation

  • Becker, Sascha O. & Cinnirella, Francesco & Wößmann, Ludger, 2012. "The effect of investment in children’s education on fertility in 1816 Prussia," Munich Reprints in Economics 20197, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenar:20197
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    1. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2002. "Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1133-1191.
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    8. Sascha Becker & Francesco Cinnirella & Ludger Woessmann, 2010. "The trade-off between fertility and education: evidence from before the demographic transition," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 177-204, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cinnirella, Francesco & Hornung, Erik, 2016. "Landownership concentration and the expansion of education," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 135-152.
    2. Carol H. Shiue, 2017. "Human capital and fertility in Chinese clans before modern growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 351-396, December.
    3. Guillaume Daudin & Raphaël Franck & Hillel Rapoport, 2016. "The cultural diffusion of the fertility transition: evidence from internal migration in 19 th century France," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-01321952, HAL.
    4. Claude Diebolt & Tapas Mishra & Faustine Perrin, 2015. "Did Gender-Bias Matter in the Quantity-Quality Trade-off in the 19th Century France?," Working Papers 04-15, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC).
    5. Oded, Galor, 2011. "Inequality, Human Capital Formation, and the Process of Development," Handbook of the Economics of Education, in: Erik Hanushek & Stephen Machin & Ludger Woessmann (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Education, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 0, pages 441-493, Elsevier.
    6. Sascha O. Becker & Francesco Cinnirella & Erik Hornung & Ludger Woessmann, 2014. "iPEHD--The ifo Prussian Economic History Database," Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(2), pages 57-66, June.
    7. Claude Diebolt & Faustine Perrin, 2014. "Growth Theories," Working Papers 02-14, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC).
    8. Claude Diebolt & Faustine Perrin, 2019. "A Cliometric Model of Unified Growth: Family Organization and Economic Growth in the Long Run of History," Studies in Economic History, in: Claude Diebolt & Auke Rijpma & Sarah Carmichael & Selin Dilli & Charlotte Störmer (ed.), Cliometrics of the Family, chapter 0, pages 7-31, Springer.
    9. Claude Diebolt & Faustine Perrin, 2013. "From Stagnation to Sustained Growth: The Role of Female Empowerment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 545-549, May.
    10. Faustine Perrin, 2011. "Unified Growth Theory: An Insight," Historical Social Research (Section 'Cliometrics'), Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 36(3), pages 362-372.
    11. Claude Diebolt & Audrey-Rose Menard & Faustine Perrin, 2016. "Behind the Fertility-Education Nexus: What Triggered the French Development Process?," Working Papers of BETA 2016-10, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
    12. Alberto Basso & David Cuberes, 2013. "Fertility and Financial Development: Evidence from U.S. Counties in the 19th Century," Working Papers 2013011, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.
    13. Sascha O. Becker & Francesco Cinnirella & Ludger Woessmann, 2013. "Does women's education affect fertility? Evidence from pre-demographic transition Prussia," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(1), pages 24-44, February.
    14. Ruth Maria Schüler, 2018. "Bildungsökonomik aus historischer Perspektive," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 78.
    15. Francesco Cinnirella & Jochen Streb, 2017. "The role of human capital and innovation in economic development: evidence from post-Malthusian Prussia," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 193-227, June.
    16. Manoel Bittencourt, 2014. "Primary Education and Fertility Rates in Southern Africa: Evidence from Before the Demographic Transition," Working Papers 432, Economic Research Southern Africa.
    17. Brian Beach & W. Walker Hanlon, 2019. "Censorship, Family Planning, and the Historical Fertility Transition," NBER Working Papers 25752, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Ludger Wößmann, 2011. "Die Bedeutung von Bildung für die Wirtschaftsentwicklung: Eine neue wirtschaftshistorische Forschungsagenda anhand preußischer Kreisdaten, Teil 2," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 64(01), pages 41-47, January.
    19. Manoel Bittencourt, 2014. "Education and Fertility: Panel Time-Series Evidence from Southern Africa," Working Papers 431, Economic Research Southern Africa.
    20. Charlotte Le Chapelain, 2013. "Cliométrie et Capital humain," Working Papers 01-13, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC).
    21. Diebolt, Claude & Mishra, Tapas & Perrin, Faustine, 2021. "Gender empowerment as an enforcer of individuals’ choice between education and fertility: Evidence from 19th century France," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 188(C), pages 408-438.
    22. Manoel Bittencourt, 2018. "Primary education and fertility rates : Evidence from Southern Africa," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 26(2), pages 283-302, April.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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