Fecundity, Fertility and Family Reconstitution Data: The Child Quantity-Quality Trade-Off Revisited

31 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2012

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: September 2012

Abstract

Growth theorists have recently argued that western nations grew rich by parents substituting child quantity (number of births) for child quality (education). Using family reconstitution data from historical England, we explore the causal link between family size and human capital of offspring measured by their literacy status and professional skills. We use a proxy of marital fecundity to instrument family size, finding that children of couples of low fecundity (and hence small families) were more likely to become literate and employed in a skilled profession than those born to couples of high fecundity (and hence large families). Robust to a variety of specifications, our findings are unusually supportive of the notion of a child quantity-quality trade-off, suggesting this could well have played a key role for the wealth of nations.

Keywords: Child Quantity-Quality Trade-Off, Demographic Transition, Human Capital Formation, Industrial Revolution, Instrumental Variable Analysis

JEL Classification: J13, N3, O10

Suggested Citation

Klemp, Marc and Weisdorf, Jacob Louis, Fecundity, Fertility and Family Reconstitution Data: The Child Quantity-Quality Trade-Off Revisited (September 2012). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP9121. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2153562

Marc Klemp (Contact Author)

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics ( email )

Øster Farimagsgade 5
Bygning 26
1353 Copenhagen K.
Denmark

Jacob Louis Weisdorf

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics ( email )

Øster Farimagsgade 5
Bygning 26
1353 Copenhagen K.
Denmark

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