IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Two Statistical Problems in the Princeton Project on the European Fertility Transition


  • Timothy W. Guinnane

    () (Yale University, Faculty of Arts & Sciences, Department of Economics (Box 8268))

  • John Christopher Brown

    () (Clark University, Department of Economics)


The Princeton Project on the Decline of Fertility in Europe (or European Fertility Project, hereafter EFP) was carried out at Princeton University's Office of Population Research in the 1960s and 1970s. This project aimed to characterize the decline of fertility that took place in Europe during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The project's summary statements argued that social and economic forces played little role in bringing about the fertility transition. The statement stresses instead a process of innovation and diffusion. A central feature of the EFP argument is a series of statistical exercises that purport to show that changes in economic and social conditions exerted little influence on fertility. Two recent papers on Germany for this period have used similar data and methods to draw different conclusions. These findings echo those of researchers working in other contexts, who increasingly find that economic and social factors play a strong role in fertility. We show that one reason for the new findings is some general statistical problems in the Princeton methodology. These are reason to temper acceptance of the Princeton project's larger message.

Suggested Citation

  • Timothy W. Guinnane & John Christopher Brown, 2004. "Two Statistical Problems in the Princeton Project on the European Fertility Transition," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm423, Yale School of Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:ysm:somwrk:ysm423

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Tommy Bengtsson & Martin Dribe, 2006. "Deliberate control in a natural fertility population: Southern Sweden, 1766–1864," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 43(4), pages 727-746, November.

    More about this item


    fertility transition;

    JEL classification:

    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ysm:somwrk:ysm423. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.