DP6 Did the Catholics always have Larger Families? Religion, Wealth, and Fertility in Rural Ulster Before 1911

Author(s): Cormac Ó Gráda
Publication Date: February 1984
Keyword(s): Fertility, Religion
JEL(s): 044, 841
Programme Areas: Human Resources
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=6

Analysis of marital fertility in rural Derry c. 1911 confirms the presence even then of a gap between Catholics and Protestants. The difference was small, however, compared to today's, and for couples who had married before the mid-1880's it was insignificant. Various indicators of 'wealth' suggest that, all else equal, wealthier couples have more children, thereby suggesting that children are a 'normal good' in the economic sense. At given values of the 'wealth variables', labourers tend to have more children than farmers. Controlling for these economic factors tends to widen the fertility gap between Catholics and Protestants.