Working Paper BETA #2019-44

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Title : Gender Equality as an Enforcer of Individuals’ Choice between Education and Fertility: Evidence from 19th Century France

Author(s) : Claude Diebolt, Tapas Mishra, Faustine Perrin

Abstract : Recent theoretical developments of growth models, especially on unified theories of growth, suggest that the child quantity-quality trade-off has been a central element of the transition from Malthusian stagnation to sustained growth. Using a unique census-based dataset, this article explores the role of gender on the trade-off between education and fertility across 86 French counties during the nineteenth century, as an empirical extension of Diebolt and Perrin (2013, 2019a). We first test the existence of the child quantity-quality trade-off in 1851. Second, we explore the long-run effect of education on fertility from a gendered approach. Two important results emerge: (i) significant and negative association between education and fertility is found, and (ii) such a relationship is non-uniform over the distribution of education/fertility. While our results suggest the existence of a negative and significant effect of the female endowments in human capital on the fertility transition, the effects of negative endowment almost disappear at a low level of fertility.

Key-words : Gender difference; Cliometrics; Individuals’ choice; Education; Fertility; ; Quantile regression; Unified growth theory; Nineteenth century France; Quality-Quantity trade-off.

JEL Classification : C22, C26, C32, C36, C81, C82, I20, J13, N01, N33