The Trade-off between Fertility and Education: Evidence from before the Demographic Transition

39 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2009

See all articles by Sascha O. Becker

Sascha O. Becker

Monash University - Department of Economics; University of Warwick

Francesco Cinnirella

University of Bergamo; University of Southern Denmark - Department of Business and Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); CAGE

Ludger Woessmann

Ifo Institute for Economic Research; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research); University of Munich - Ifo Institute for Economic Research

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2009

Abstract

The trade-off between child quantity and education is a crucial ingredient of unified growth models that explain the transition from Malthusian stagnation to modern growth. We present first evidence that such a trade-off indeed existed before the demographic transition, exploiting a unique census-based dataset of 334 Prussian counties in 1849. Estimating two separate instrumental-variable models that instrument education by landownership inequality and distance to Wittenberg and fertility by previous-generation fertility and sex-imbalance ratio, we find that causation between fertility and education runs both ways. Furthermore, education in 1849 predicts the fertility transition in 1880-1905.

Keywords: schooling, fertility transition, unified growth theory, 19th-century Prussia

JEL Classification: I20, J13, N33

Suggested Citation

Becker, Sascha O. and Cinnirella, Francesco and Woessmann, Ludger, The Trade-off between Fertility and Education: Evidence from before the Demographic Transition (September 2009). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 2775, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1476206

Sascha O. Becker (Contact Author)

Monash University - Department of Economics ( email )

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University of Warwick ( email )

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Francesco Cinnirella

University of Bergamo ( email )

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Ludger Woessmann

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