Censorship, Family Planning, and the Historical Fertility Transition

73 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2019

See all articles by Brian Beach

Brian Beach

College of William and Mary - Department of Economics

William Hanlon

Leonard N. Stern School of Business - Department of Economics

Date Written: April 2019

Abstract

The historical fertility transition is one of the most important events in economic history. This study provides new evidence on the role of information and social norms in this transition. We begin by documenting a causal relationship between the public release of information on the morality of engaging in family planning that resulted from the famous Bradlaugh-Besant trial of 1877 and Britain's subsequent fertility decline. We then show that the release of this information had nearly simultaneous effects among British-origin populations abroad, in Canada, South Africa, Australia and the United States. These findings highlight the importance of information and changing social norms in the historical fertility transition, as well as the role that cultural and linguistic ties played in transmitting these changes around the world.

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Suggested Citation

Beach, Brian and Hanlon, William, Censorship, Family Planning, and the Historical Fertility Transition (April 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w25752. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3372056

Brian Beach (Contact Author)

College of William and Mary - Department of Economics ( email )

Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States

William Hanlon

Leonard N. Stern School of Business - Department of Economics ( email )

269 Mercer Street
New York, NY 10003
United States

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