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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

CAGE Online Working Paper Series from Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE)

Abstract: In explaining England’s early industrial development, previous research has highlighted that wealthy pre-industrial elites had more surviving offspring than their poorer counterparts. Thus, entrepreneurial traits spread and helped England grow rich. We contest this view, showing that lower-class reproduction rates were no different from the elites when taking singleness and childlessness into account. Elites married less and were more often childless. Many died without descendants. We find that the middle classes had the highest net reproduction and argue that this advantage was instrumental to England’s economic success because the middle class invested most strongly in human capital.

Keywords: Fertility; Marriage; Childlessness; European Marriage Pattern; Industrial Revolution; Evolutionary Advantage; Social Class JEL Classification: J12; J13; N33 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dem, nep-evo, nep-gro and nep-his
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Journal Article: Childlessness, celibacy and net fertility in pre-industrial England: the middle-class evolutionary advantage (2019) Downloads
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:cge:wacage:406

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