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Do Fertility Transitions Influence Infant Mortality Declines? Evidence from Early Modern Germany

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  • Alan Fernihough
  • McGovern, Mark E.

Abstract

The timing and sequencing of fertility transitions and early-life mortality declines in historical Western societies indicates that reductions in sibship (number of siblings) may have contributed to improvements in infant health. Surprisingly however, this demographic relationship has received little attention in empirical research. We outline the difficulties associated with establishing the effect of sibship on infant mortality, and discuss the inherent bias associated with conventional empirical approaches. We offer a solution that permits an empirical test of this relationship whilst accounting for reverse causality and potential omitted variable bias. Our approach is illustrated by evaluating the causal impact of family size on infant mortality using genealogical data from 13 German parishes spanning the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Overall, our findings do not support the hypothesis that declining fertility led to increased infant survival probabilities in historical populations.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan Fernihough & McGovern, Mark E., 2014. "Do Fertility Transitions Influence Infant Mortality Declines? Evidence from Early Modern Germany," Working Paper 91496, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  • Handle: RePEc:qsh:wpaper:91496
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    File URL: http://scholar.harvard.edu/mcgovern/node/91496
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Do Fertility Transitions Influence Infant Mortality Declines? Evidence from Early Modern Germany
      by Mark McGovern in Economics, Psychology and Policy on 2014-03-24 23:08:00

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    1. Alan Fernihough & Mark McGovern, 2014. "Do fertility transitions influence infant mortality declines? Evidence from early modern Germany," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 27(4), pages 1145-1163, October.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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