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

Research output: Working paperResearch

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  • DP 11-16

    Submitted manuscript, 474 KB, PDF document

Marc Klemp, Jacob L. Weisdorf

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 forhistorical 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.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDepartment of Economics, University of Copenhagen
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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