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How the West “Invented” fertility restriction


Voigtländer, Nico; Voth, Hans-Joachim (2013). How the West “Invented” fertility restriction. American Economic Review, 103(6):2227-2264.

Abstract

We analyze the emergence of the first socioeconomic institution in history limiting fertility: west of a line from St. Petersburg to Trieste, the European Marriage Pattern (EMP) reduced childbirths by approximately one-third between the fourteenth and eighteenth century. To explain the rise of EMP we build a two-sector model of agricultural production—grain and livestock. Women have a comparative advantage in animal husbandry. After the Black Death in 1348–1350, land abundance triggered a shift toward the pastoral sector. This improved female employment prospects, leading to later marriages. Using detailed data from England, we provide strong evidence for our mechanism.

Abstract

We analyze the emergence of the first socioeconomic institution in history limiting fertility: west of a line from St. Petersburg to Trieste, the European Marriage Pattern (EMP) reduced childbirths by approximately one-third between the fourteenth and eighteenth century. To explain the rise of EMP we build a two-sector model of agricultural production—grain and livestock. Women have a comparative advantage in animal husbandry. After the Black Death in 1348–1350, land abundance triggered a shift toward the pastoral sector. This improved female employment prospects, leading to later marriages. Using detailed data from England, we provide strong evidence for our mechanism.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:October 2013
Deposited On:16 Apr 2014 10:01
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:50
Publisher:American Economic Association
ISSN:0002-8282
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.103.6.2227

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