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The declines in infant mortality and fertility: Evidence from British cities in demographic transition

  • Andrew Newell


    (Department of Economics, University of Sussex, UK
    IZA, Bonn, Germany)

  • Ian Gazeley


    (Department of History, University of Sussex, UK)

At the beginning of the twentieth century Britain was roughly halfway through a 60-year demographic transition with declining infant mortality and birth rates. Cities exhibited great and strongly correlated diversity in these rates. We demonstrate cross–section correlations with, for instance, women’s employment, population density, literacy and improved water supply and sanitation, that have been linked to the transition. When we analyse data from the late 1850s and the early 1900s, the changes in the two rates are not correlated across cities, but we find a robust and large impact from sanitation improvement to long-period infant mortality reduction. We also find the extension of basic literacy is related to increases in female labour market participation, which is in turn related to fertility reduction. Lastly we find that more rapid urban growth accelerates fertility decline, but, in late 19th century Britain it slowed the reduction of infant mortality.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Sussex in its series Working Paper Series with number 4812.

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Date of creation: Dec 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:sus:susewp:4812
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  1. Oded Galor, 2011. "The Demographic Transition: Causes and Consequences," NBER Working Papers 17057, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Matthias Doepke, 2005. "Child mortality and fertility decline: Does the Barro-Becker model fit the facts?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 337-366, 06.
  3. Becker, Gary S & Lewis, H Gregg, 1973. "On the Interaction between the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages S279-88, Part II, .
  4. Murthi, Mamta, 2002. "Fertility Change in Asia and Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(10), pages 1769-1778, October.
  5. Gazeley, Ian & Newell, Andrew T., 2009. "The End of Destitution," IZA Discussion Papers 4295, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Ian Gazeley & Andrew Newell, 2012. "The end of destitution: evidence from urban British working households 1904--37," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(1), pages 80-102, January.
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