“Economic Status and Reproductive Success in New France”
Gregory Clark, UC‐Davis and Gillian Hamilton, University of Toronto.
Draft prepared for Canadian Network for Economic History conference,
It is often reported that at least in developing countries “fertility typically falls
with education”1 Recently, macroeconomists in particular have taken note of this
stylized fact and posited a relationship between this fertility gap and inequality and
growth. For example, Kremer and Chen (1999 and 2000) illustrate that this type of
fertility differential may compound inequality, assuming that the uneducated are less
likely to invest in their children’s education. The uneducated population will grow
more quickly than the educated and as a result the wage of the unskilled will fall.
Because the opportunity cost of children falls for the uneducated, they have even more
children. Hence the degree of inequality rises.2 Consistent with their model, they note
that empirical evidence indicates that the fertility gap between the educated and
uneducated is larger in countries with higher degrees of inequality.3 Dahan and
Tsiddon (1998) have a similar approach but focus on the demographic transition. In
their model, they also assume that the uneducated will have more children than the
educated and the educated will be more likely to educate their children. As a result, the
uneducated population experiences relatively rapid growth (hence a rising fertility rate
overall and growing income inequality—the first phase of the demographic transition).
1 Kremer and Chen (1999: 155).
2 Theoretically, they illustrate that multiple equilibria are possible. The degree of fertility and wage
differentials across unskilled and skilled workers depends on the initial proportion of skilled workers. In
particular, the larger the initial proportion of skilled workers, the greater the chance that the economy
may converge to a