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

  • Galor, Oded
  • Klemp, Marc

This research presents the first evidence that moderate fecundity was conducive 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: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/52049/1/MPRA_paper_52049.pdf
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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 52049.

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Date of creation: 07 Dec 2013
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:52049
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  1. Alberto Bisin & Thierry Verdier, 2000. ""Beyond the Melting Pot": Cultural Transmission, Marriage, and the Evolution of Ethnic and Religious Traits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 955-988.
  2. 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.
  3. Galor, Oded & Michalopoulos, Stelios, 2012. "Evolution and the Growth Process: Natural Selection of Entrepreneurial Traits," IZA Discussion Papers 6327, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Lagerl F, Nils-Petter, 2007. "Long-Run Trends In Human Body Mass," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(03), pages 367-387, June.
  5. Oded Galor, 2005. "Unified Growth Theory," Development and Comp Systems 0504001, EconWPA.
  6. Oded_Galor, 2004. "From Stagnation to Growth:Unified Growth Theory," Working Papers 2004-15, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  7. 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.
  8. Becker, Sascha O. & Cinnirella, Francesco & Woessmann, Ludger, 2009. "The Trade-off between Fertility and Education: Evidence from before the Demographic Transition," IZA Discussion Papers 4557, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Wacziarg, Romain & Spolaore, Enrico, 2006. "The Diffusion of Development," Research Papers 1898r1, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  10. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Natural Selection and the Origin of economic Growth," Working Papers 2000-18, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  11. Jo Thori Lind & Halvor Mehlum, 2010. "With or Without U? The Appropriate Test for a U-Shaped Relationship," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 72(1), pages 109-118, 02.
  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. 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.
  14. Galor, Oded & Weil, David, 1999. "From Malthusian Stagnation to Modern Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 2082, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Weber, Ernst Juerg, 1996. " Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(3), pages 357-65, September.
  16. Jorgen W. Weibull, 1997. "Evolutionary Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262731215, March.
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