The Delayed Western Fertility Decline: an Examination of English-Speaking Countries

  • John C. Caldwell


The Western fertility decline was inevitable, given that child mortality was persistently falling and the economic value of children was progressively undermined by urbanization, compulsory schooling, legislation restricting the exploitation of minors, and the kind of employment available in an advanced industrial system. Indeed, by 1800 French marital fertility (as measured by the index I g) had fallen 10 percent (the criterion for transition employed by the Princeton European Fertility Project)2 (Weir 1994:330–331). It is inconceivable that such a fall occurred in conflict with family economic needs, and thus it is evidence that French children were not of net economic value to their parents by the end of the eighteenth century.


Birth Control Nineteenth Century Fertility Decline Fertility Transition Marital Fertility 
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© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • John C. Caldwell
    • 1
  1. 1.The Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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