Two Statistical Problems in the Princeton Project on the European Fertility Transition
John C. Brown
Clark University - Department of Economics
Timothy W. Guinnane
Yale University - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)
Yale University Economic Growth Center Discussion Paper No. 869
The Princeton Project on the Decline of Fertility in Europe
(or European Fertility Project, hereafter EFP) was carried out
at Princeton University's Office of Population Research in the
1960s and 1970s. This project aimed to characterize the
decline of fertility that took place in Europe during the
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The project's
summary statements argued that social and economic forces
played little role in bringing about the fertility transition.
The statement stresses instead a process of innovation and
diffusion. A central feature of the EFP argument is a series
of statistical exercises that purport to show that changes in
economic and social conditions exerted little influence on
fertility. Two recent papers on Germany for this period have
used similar data and methods to draw different conclusions.
These findings echo those of researchers working in other
contexts, who increasingly find that economic and social
factors play a strong role in fertility. We show that one
reason for the new findings is some general statistical
problems in the Princeton methodology. These are reason
to temper acceptance of the Princeton project's larger message.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 34
Keywords: fertility transition
JEL Classification: J13, N33, O15working papers series
Date posted: September 18, 2003
© 2013 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
This page was processed by apollo1 in 0.391 seconds