The Child Quantity-Quality Trade-Off During the Industrial Revolution in England

29 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2011

See all articles by Marc Klemp

Marc Klemp

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics

Jacob Louis Weisdorf

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics

Date Written: May 31, 2011

Abstract

We take Gary Becker's child quantity-quality trade-off hypothesis to the historical record, investigating the causal link from family size to the literacy status of offspring using data from Anglican parish registers, c. 1700-1830. Extraordinarily for historical data, the parish records enable us to control for parental literacy, longevity and social class, as well as sex and birth order of offspring. In a world without modern contraception and among the couples whose children were not prenuptially conceived we are able to explore a novel source of exogenous variation in family size: marital fecundability as measured by the time interval from the marriage to the first birth. Consistent with previous findings among historical populations, we document a large and significantly negative effect of family size on children's literacy.

Keywords: child quantity-quality trade-off, demographic transition, Industrial Revolution, instrumental variable analysis, human capital formation

JEL Classification: J13, N3, O10

Suggested Citation

Klemp, Marc and Weisdorf, Jacob Louis, The Child Quantity-Quality Trade-Off During the Industrial Revolution in England (May 31, 2011). Univ. of Copenhagen Dept. of Economics Discussion Paper No. 11-16. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1856474 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1856474

Marc Klemp

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics ( email )

Øster Farimagsgade 5
Bygning 26
1353 Copenhagen K.
Denmark

Jacob Louis Weisdorf (Contact Author)

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics ( email )

Øster Farimagsgade 5
Bygning 26
1353 Copenhagen K.
Denmark

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