Does women's education affect fertility? Evidence from pre-demographic transition Prussia

Sascha O. Becker, Francesco Cinnirella, Ludger Woessmann

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19 Citations (Scopus)


While women's employment opportunities, relative wages, and the child quantity-quality trade-off have been studied as factors underlying historical fertility limitation, the role of women's education has received little attention. We combine Prussian county data from three censuses - 1816, 1849, and 1867 - to estimate the relationship between women's education and their fertility before the demographic transition. Despite controlling for several demand and supply factors, we find a negative residual effect of women's education on fertility. Instrumental-variable estimates using educational variation deriving from landownership concentration, as well as panel estimates controlling for fixed effects of counties, suggest that the effect of women's education on fertility is causal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-44
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Review of Economic History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes

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