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Structural Change and the Fertility Transition in the American South

Philipp Ager (), Markus Brueckner and Benedikt Herz
Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Markus Brueckner ()

No 1, CEH Discussion Papers from Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University

Abstract: This paper provides new insights on the link between structural change and the fertility transi-tion. In the early 1890s agricultural production in the American South was severely impaired by the spread of an agricultural pest, the boll weevil. We use this plausibly exogenous variation in agricultural production to establish a causal link between changes in earnings opportunities in agriculture and fertility. Our estimates show that lower earnings opportunities in agriculture lead to fewer children. We identify two channels: households staying in agriculture reduced fertility because children are a normal good, and households switching to manufacturing faced higher opportunity costs of raising children. The lower earnings opportunities in agriculture also stimulated human capital formation, which we argue is consistent with the predictions of a quantity-quality model of fertility.

Keywords: Fertility Transition; Structural Change; Industrialization; Agricultural Income (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J13 N31 O14 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr, nep-dem, nep-evo, nep-gro, nep-his and nep-lab
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https://www.cbe.anu.edu.au/researchpapers/ceh/WP201801.pdf

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Working Paper: Structural Change and the Fertility Transition in the American South (2017) Downloads
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:auu:hpaper:062

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