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Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Childlessness, Celibacy and Net Fertility in Pre-Industrial England: The Middle-class Evolutionary Advantage

Author(s): David de la Croix, Eric Schneider and Jacob Weisdorf

Publication Date: January 2017

Keyword(s): Childlessness, European Marriage Pattern, Evolutionary Advantage, Fertility, Industrial Rev- olution, Marriage and Social Class

Programme Area(s): Economic History

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.

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Bibliographic Reference

de la Croix, D, Schneider, E and Weisdorf, J. 2017. 'Childlessness, Celibacy and Net Fertility in Pre-Industrial England: The Middle-class Evolutionary Advantage'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research. https://cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=11752