Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/96814
Authors: 
Galor, Oded
Klemp, Marc
Year of Publication: 
2014
Series/Report no.: 
IZA Discussion Paper 8025
Abstract: 
This research presents the first evidence that moderate fecundity was conducive for long-run reproductive success within the human species. Exploiting an extensive genealogy record for nearly half a million individuals in Quebec during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the study traces the number of descendants of early inhabitants in the subsequent four generations. Using the time interval between the date of marriage and the first live birth as a measure of reproductive capacity, the research establishes that while a higher fecundity is associated with a larger number of children, an intermediate level maximizes long-run reproductive success. The finding further indicates that the optimal level of fecundity was below the population median, suggesting that the forces of natural selection favored individuals with a lower level of fecundity. The research lends credence to the hypothesis that during the Malthusian epoch, natural selection favored individuals with a larger predisposition towards child quality, contributing to the onset of the demographic transition and the evolution of societies from an epoch of stagnation to sustained economic growth.
Subjects: 
demography
evolution
natural selection
fecundity
quantity-quality trade-off
long-run reproductive success
JEL: 
J10
O10
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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