Journal of Economic Growth

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 357–385

The long-run determinants of fertility: one century of demographic change 1900–1999

Open AccessArticle

DOI: 10.1007/s10887-012-9085-6

Cite this article as:
Herzer, D., Strulik, H. & Vollmer, S. J Econ Growth (2012) 17: 357. doi:10.1007/s10887-012-9085-6


We examine the long-run relationship between fertility, mortality, and income using panel cointegration techniques and the available data for the last century. Our main result is that mortality changes and growth of income contributed to the fertility transition. The fertility reduction triggered by falling mortality, however, is not enough to overcompensate the positive effect of falling mortality on population growth. This means that growth of income per capita is essential to explain the observed secular decline of population growth. These results are robust to alternative estimation methods, potential outliers, sample selection, different measures of mortality, the sample period, the inclusion of education as an explanatory variable, and the use of different data sets. In addition, our causality tests suggest that fertility changes are both cause and consequence of economic development.


FertilityMortalityEconomic developmentPanel cointegration

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© The Author(s) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dierk Herzer
    • 1
  • Holger Strulik
    • 2
  • Sebastian Vollmer
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsHelmut-Schmidt-University HamburgHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  3. 3.Department of Global Health and PopulationHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA