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Childlessness, celibacy and net fertility in pre-industrial England: the middle-class evolutionary advantage

David de la Croix (), Eric Schneider () and Jacob Weisdorf

Journal of Economic Growth, 2019, vol. 24, issue 3, 223-256

Abstract: Abstract This paper reconsiders the fertility of historical social groups by accounting for singleness and childlessness. We find that the middle class had the highest reproductive success during England’s early industrial development. In light of the greater propensity of the middle class to invest in human capital, the rise in the prevalence of these traits in the population could have been instrumental to England’s economic success. Unlike earlier results about the survival of the richest, the paper shows that the reproductive success of the rich (and also the poor) were lower than that of the middle class, once accounting for singleness and childlessness. Hence, the prosperity of England over this period can be attributed to the increase in the prevalence of middle-class traits rather than those of the upper (or lower) class.

Keywords: Fertility; Marriage; Childlessness; European marriage pattern; Industrial revolution; Evolutionary advantage; Social class (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J12 J13 N33 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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Working Paper: Childlessness, Celibacy and Net Fertility in Pre-Industrial England: The Middle-class Evolutionary Advantage (2019) Downloads
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