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Persistence of Malthus or Persistence in Malthus? Mortality, Income, and Marriage in the French Fertility Decline of the Long Nineteenth Century

Number: 363
Year: 2010
Author(s): Tommy E. Murphy
This paper brings the French case into the current debate on Malthusian dynamics in early modern times. In particular, it studies the long-term evolution of aggregate variables, showing that nineteenth century France was hardly a Malthusian world in a strict sense. Homeostasis was maintained throughout the century and there were signs of a strong positive check, but if there was some sort of preventive check, this was not 'written in stone'. The results of both cointegrated VAR and short-run analysis grant a reading where departure from the Malthusian world (if there ever was one) is due to a secular change in the relationship between income, marriages, and births. If this interpretation is correct, the fertility decline was instrumental in the sustained decline in mortalit1y during the century.

Keywords: economic history, demographic history (Europe pre-1913), France, demographic economics, fertility, cointegrated VAR, short-run analysis
JEL codes: N33, J13