DP11752-2 | Childlessness, Celibacy and Net Fertility in Pre-Industrial England: The Middle-class Evolutionary Advantage

Publication Date

02/20/2019

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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.