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Title:Malthus in the bedroom: Birth spacing as a preventive check mechanism in pre-modern England PDF Logo
Authors:Cinnirella, Francesco
Klemp, Marc P. B.
Weisdorf, Jacob L.
Issue Date:2012
Series/Report no.:CESifo Working Paper: Economics of Education 3936
Abstract:We question the received wisdom that birth limitation was absent among historical populations before the fertility transition of the late nineteenth-century. Using duration and panel models on family-level data, we find a causal, negative short-run effect of living standards on birth spacing in the three centuries preceding England's fertility transition. While the effect could be driven by biology in the case of the poor, a significant effect among the rich suggests that spacing worked as a control mechanism in pre-modern England. Our findings support the Malthusian preventive check hypothesis and rationalize England's historical leadership as a low population-pressure, high-wage economy.
Subjects:spacing
birth intervals
fertility
limitation
natural fertility
preventive check
JEL:J11
J13
N33
Document Type:Working Paper
Appears in Collections:CESifo Working Papers, CESifo Group Munich

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