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Title: Why did fertility decline? : an analysis of the individual level economics correlates of the nineteenth century fertility transition in England and France
Author: Cummins, Neil
ISNI:       0000 0004 2711 3478
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 2009
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The fertility transition in nineteenth century Europe is one of economic history’s greatest puzzles. There is no consensus in the literature on the causes of this ‘fertility revolution’. Following a critical review of the empirical and theoretical literature, this thesis re-examines the economic correlates of the fertility decline through the analysis of two new datasets from England and France. For the first time, the relationship between wealth and fertility can be studied over the period of the fertility transition. Clear patterns are discovered, namely a strong positive relationship pre-transition which switches to a strongly negative relationship during the onset of the transition. Family limitation is initiated by the richest segments of society. I then introduce a simple model which links fertility and social mobility to levels of economic inequality. I argue that parents are motivated by relative status concerns and the fertility transition is a response to changes in the environment for social mobility, where increased mobility becomes obtainable through fertility limitation. This hypothesis is tested with the new micro data in England and France. Fertility decline is strongly associated with decreased levels of inequality and increased levels of social mobility. The analysis finds strong support for the role of changes in inequality and the environment for social mobility as central factors in our understandings of Europe’s fertility transition.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: DA Great Britain ; DC France ; HC Economic History and Conditions ; HQ The family. Marriage. Woman