Urbanization, Mortality, and Fertility in Malthusian England

Abstract

The modern world is the product of two momentous changes: the Industrial Revolution of 1800, which brought sustained efficiency advances in economies, and the Demographic Transition of 1900, which channeled those efficiency advances mainly into increased income per capita, instead of increases in population. How these revolutions were connected has been a persistent unsolved puzzle in the history of growth. The Demographic Transition was achieved without any improvement in contraceptive technologies from those of 1800 and earlier. It was a possibility for all preindustrial societies. Why did it occur only after the Industrial Revolution? The key component of the Malthusian economy which reigned before 1800 was a rise in net fertility, numbers of surviving children, with a rise in income. Yet a standard feature of the modern world is a decline of fertility with income. Theories of economic growth that do not simply invoke an exogenous shift in fertility preferences must reconcile these divergent demographic behaviors into a common objective shared by preand postindustrial parents. This has been done, for example, by assuming a subsistence consumption minimum that has to be achieved before children can be born, so that for a range of incomes just above the minimum, the fertility-income relationship is positive, yet for higher incomes it becomes neutral or negative (Oded Galor and David Weil 2000; Robert E. Lucas 2002; Galor and Omer Moav 2002). This assumption is at variance with the experience of countries like Disease anD Development: Historical anD contemporary perspectives †

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Cummins2009UrbanizationMA, title={Urbanization, Mortality, and Fertility in Malthusian England}, author={Neil Cummins}, year={2009} }