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Survival of the Confucians: social status and fertility in China, 1400-1900

Sijie Hu

LSE Research Online Documents on Economics from London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library

Abstract: This paper uses the genealogical records of 35,691 men to test one of the fundamental assumptions of the Malthusian model. Did higher living standards result in increased net reproduction? An empirical investigation of China between 1400 and 1900 finds a positive relationship between social status and fertility. The gentry scholars, the Confucians, produced three times as many sons as the commoners, and this status effect on fertility was stronger in the post-1600 period than in the pre-1600 period. The effect disappears once I control for the number of marriages. Increased marriages among upper-class males drove reproductive success in Imperial China. The results add a demographic perspective to explain the lack of modern economic growth in Imperial China.

Keywords: fertility; social status; marriages; reproductive success; Malthusian mechanism; China (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J12 J13 N35 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 72 pages
Date: 2020-04-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cna, nep-dem, nep-evo, nep-gro, nep-his and nep-tra
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