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Becker, Sascha O.; Cinnirella, Francesco; Wößmann, Ludger (2010): The trade-off between fertility and education: Evidence from before the demographic transition. In: Journal of Economic Growth, Vol. 15, No. 3: pp. 177-204

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The trade-off between child quantity and quality is a crucial ingredient of unified growth models that explain the transition from Malthusian stagnation to modern growth. We present first evidence that such a trade-off indeed existed already in the nineteenth century, exploiting a unique census-based dataset of 334 Prussian counties in 1849. Furthermore, we find that causation between fertility and education runs both ways, based on separate instrumental-variable models that instrument fertility by sex ratios and education by landownership inequality and distance toWittenberg. Education in 1849 also predicts the fertility transition in 1880-1905.

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