Escaping malthus: Economic growth and fertility change in the developing world

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Following mid-twentieth century predictions of Malthusian catastrophe, fertility in the developing world more than halved, while living standards more than doubled. We analyze how fertility change related to economic growth during this episode, using data on 2.3 million women from 255 household surveys. We find different responses to fluctuations and long-run growth, both heterogeneous over the life cycle. Fertility was procyclical but declined and delayed with longrun growth; fluctuations late (but not early) in the reproductive period affected lifetime fertility. The results are consistent with models of the escape from the Malthusian trap, extended with a life cycle and liquidity constraints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1440-1467
Number of pages28
JournalAmerican Economic Review
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics


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