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The Trade-off between Fertility and Education: Evidence from before the Demographic Transition

  • Becker, Sascha
  • Francesco, Cinirella
  • Woessmann, Ludger

The trade-off between child quantity and education is a crucial ingredient of unified growth models that explain the transition from Malthusian stagnation to modern growth. We present first evidence that such a trade-off indeed existed before the demographic transition, exploiting a unique census-based dataset of 334 Prussian counties in 1849. Estimating two separate instrumental-variable models that instrument education by landownership inequality and distance to Wittenberg and fertility by previous-generation fertility and sex-imbalance ratio, we find that causation between fertility and education runs both ways. Furthermore, education in 1849 predicts the fertility transition in 1880-1905.

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Paper provided by University of Stirling, Division of Economics in its series Stirling Economics Discussion Papers with number 2009-17.

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Date of creation: Aug 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:stl:stledp:2009-17
Contact details of provider: Postal: Division of Economics, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland FK9 4LA
Phone: +44 (0)1786 467473
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