The Child Quality-Quantity Tradeoff, England, 1780-1880: A Fundamental Component of the Economic Theory of Growth is Missing

63 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2016 Last revised: 18 Feb 2019

See all articles by Gregory Clark

Gregory Clark

University of California, Davis - Department of Economics

Neil Cummins

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economic History

Date Written: April 2016

Abstract

In recent theorizing, modern economic growth was created by substituting child quality for quantity. However evidence for any substantial tradeoff of child quality for quantity is minimal. In England the Industrial Revolution occurred in a period of substantial human capital investment, but no fertility control, huge random variation in family sizes, and uncorrelated family size and parent quality. Yet family size variation had minor effects on educational attainment, occupational status, and child health, for both prosperous and poor families. More children did substantially reduce wealth at death, but only for rich families with inherited wealth. In families with no parental wealth, wealth at death was unaffected by family size. Even for richer families the wealth effect substantially diminishes by the grandchild generation. There is no significant quality-quantity tradeoff in human capital even well into the modern growth era. Growth theory must proceed in other directions.

Keywords: Economic Growth, Growth Theory, Human Capital, Quality-Quantity Tradeoff

Suggested Citation

Clark, Gregory and Cummins, Neil, The Child Quality-Quantity Tradeoff, England, 1780-1880: A Fundamental Component of the Economic Theory of Growth is Missing (April 2016). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP11232, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2766560

Gregory Clark (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis - Department of Economics ( email )

One Shields Drive
Davis, CA 95616-8578
United States

Neil Cummins

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economic History ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.neilcummins.com

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