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Malthus was right: new evidence from a time-varying VAR

  • Alexander Rathke
  • Samad Sarferaz

Although Unified Growth Theory presumes the existence of the Maltusian mechanism in pre-industrial England recent empirical studies challenged this assumption. This paper studies the interaction of vital rates and real wages in the period from 1540 to 1870 in England. We employ time-varying VARs, an approach which addresses potential shortcomings such as parameter instability and declining volatilities in the previous literature. In contrast to recent studies, the main Malthusian mechanisms - the preventive and the positive check - were both at work until the mid-19th century. The preventive check was decreasing and the positive check increasing in importance. Most remarkably, the positive check dominated after the 1750s. The results indicate that instead of disappearing before the advent of the industrial revolution, the Malthusian mechanism rather changed its face over time.

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Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 477.

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Date of creation: Feb 2010
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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:477
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