Detecting Evidence of Deliberate Fertility Control during the Pre-Transitional Period in a Sample of German Villages

Francesco Scalone, Lund University
Martin Dribe, Lund University

The aim of this paper is to search for evidence of deliberate control before the fertility transition by analyzing the fertility response to short-term fluctuations in grain prices. In the analysis we use longitudinal data from six German villages together with aggregate price series from nearby towns in a continuous-time event history analysis. The data allow us to both distinguish the response in different socioeconomic groups, and to look at the response by quarter of a year during the 18th and 19th centuries. The timing of the response will be studied in great detail in order to identify the causal mechanisms. Lowered fertility very soon after the economic downturn – within six to nine months – is evidence of deliberate control as a result of families foreseeing bad times. If, on the other hand, the response lags for more than nine months, several factors, both intentional and unintentional, could be at work.

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Presented in Session 120: Historical Demography