Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 3–29

Malthus to modernity: wealth, status, and fertility in England, 1500–1879


DOI: 10.1007/s00148-014-0509-9

Cite this article as:
Clark, G. & Cummins, N. J Popul Econ (2015) 28: 3. doi:10.1007/s00148-014-0509-9


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.


Fertility transition Demographic transition Preindustrial fertility 

Supplementary material

148_2014_509_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (123 kb)
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Economic HistoryLSELondonUK

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