Malthus to modernity: wealth, status, and fertility in England, 1500–1879
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- Clark, G. & Cummins, N. J Popul Econ (2015) 28: 3. doi:10.1007/s00148-014-0509-9
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A key challenge to theories of long-run economic growth has been linking the onset of modern growth with the move to modern fertility limitation. A notable puzzle for these theories is that modern growth in England began around 1780, 100 years before there was seemingly any movement to limit fertility. Here we show that the aggregate data on fertility in England before 1880 conceals significant declines in the fertility of the middle and upper classes earlier. These declines coincide with the Industrial Revolution and are of the character predicted by some recent theories of long-run growth.