Did the Black Death Cause Economic Development by 'Inventing' Fertility Restriction?

48 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2018  

Jeremy Edwards

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Economics and Politics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Sheilagh Ogilvie

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: May 07, 2018

Abstract

Voigtländer and Voth argue that the Black Death shifted England towards pastoral agriculture, increasing wages for unmarried women, thereby delaying female marriage, lowering fertility, and unleashing economic growth. We show that this argument does not hold. Its crucial assumption is inconsistent with the evidence: women wanting to do pastoral work after the Black Death did not have to remain unmarried, so improved pastoral opportunities did not necessitate later marriage. There is no consensus that late female marriage emerged after the Black Death. Furthermore, the relationship between pastoralism and female marriage age in England provides no support for this argument.

Keywords: european marriage pattern, black death, land-labour ratio, arable and pastoral agriculture

Suggested Citation

Edwards, Jeremy and Ogilvie, Sheilagh, Did the Black Death Cause Economic Development by 'Inventing' Fertility Restriction? (May 07, 2018). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 7016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3200277

Jeremy Edwards

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Economics and Politics ( email )

Austin Robinson Building
Sidgwick Avenue
Cambridge, CB3 9DD
United Kingdom
++44 1223 335232 (Phone)
++44 1223 335475 (Fax)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.CESifo.de

Sheilagh Ogilvie (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Economics ( email )

Austin Robinson Building
Sidgwick Avenue
Cambridge, CB3 9DD
United Kingdom
44-1223-335200 (Phone)
44-1223-335475 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/people/faculty/sco2

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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