Accounting for Fertility Decline
During the Transition to Growth
In every developed country, the economic transition from pre-industrial stagna-
tion to modern growth was accompanied by a demographic transition from high to
low fertility. Even though the overall pattern is repeated, there are large cross-country
variations in the timing and speed of the demographic transition. What accounts for
falling fertility during the transition to growth? To answer this question, this paper de-
velops a uni±ed growth model which delivers a transition from stagnation to growth,
accompanied by declining fertility. The model is used to determine whether gov-
ernment policies that affect the opportunity cost of education can account for cross-
country variations in fertility decline. Among the policies considered, education sub-
sidies have only minor effects, while accounting for child-labor regulations is crucial.
Apart from in²uencing fertility, the policies also have large effects on the evolution of
the income distribution in the course of development.
I20, J13, O14, O40
Growth, Fertility, Education, Child Labor, Inequality.
Workshop participants at Chicago, the SED annual meetings, the Max Planck Institute for Demogra-
phy, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Wharton, Pennsylvania, Boston University, Western Ontario,
UCLA, Stanford, Rochester, Virginia, UCL, Cambridge, IIES, Illinois, Minnesota, USC, UC Riverside, Duke,
and Brown provided many helpful comments. I also bene±ted from suggestions by Sylvain Dessy, Lee Oha-
nian, Daria Zakharova, and Rui Zhao. Financial support by the National Science Foundation is gratefully
acknowledged. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Address: UCLA, Department of Economics, 405 Hilgard
Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1477.