DP11232 | The Child Quality-Quantity Tradeoff, England, 1780-1880: A Fundamental Component of the Economic Theory of Growth is Missing

Publication Date

04/15/2016

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Abstract

In recent theorizing, modern economic growth was created by substituting child quality for quantity. However evidence for this tradeoff is minimal. In England the Industrial Revolution occurred in a period 1780-1879 of substantial human capital investment, but no fertility control, huge random variation in family sizes, and uncorrelated family size and parent quality. Yet family size variation had little effect on educational attainment, occupational status, or longevity, for both prosperous and poor families. More children reduced inherited wealth, but even that effect largely disappeared by the next generation. There is no quality-quantity tradeoff. Growth theory must proceed in other directions.