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Censorship, Family Planning, and the Historical Fertility Transition

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  • Brian Beach
  • W. Walker Hanlon

Abstract

The historical fertility transition is one of the most important events in economic history. This study provides new evidence on the role that ideas about family planning played in this transition. We begin by documenting a link between the famous Bradlaugh-Besant trial that took place in England in 1877, which revolved around the morality of family planning, and the sharp decline in fertility that took place in Britain beginning in that year. We then show that similar declines are observed among populations living outside of Britain but with strong cultural and linguistic links to Britain. Our findings highlight the importance of changing social norms in the historical fertility transition and provide novel evidence showing that cultural and linguistic ties can play an important role in rapidly transmitting social change around the world.

Suggested Citation

  • Brian Beach & W. Walker Hanlon, 2019. "Censorship, Family Planning, and the Historical Fertility Transition," NBER Working Papers 25752, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25752
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    Cited by:

    1. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2014. "Fertility and Modernity," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0779, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
    2. Jeanne Cilliers & Martine Mariotti, 2019. "Stop! Go! What can we learn about family planning from birth timing in settler South Africa, 1800-1910?," CEH Discussion Papers 05, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
    3. Giesecke, Matthias & Jäger, Philipp, 2020. "Pension incentives and labor supply: Evidence from the introduction of universal old-age assistance in the UK," Ruhr Economic Papers 844, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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