Fertility and the plough

The American Economic Review Vol/Iss. 101(3) American Economic Association Published In Pages: 499-503
By Alesina, Alberto, Giuliano, Paola, Nunn, Nathan


The researchers examine Boserup's (1970) theory that variation in traditional agricultural practices shape gender roles by examining the relationship between historical plough use and contemporary fertility rates and preferential attitudes towards fertility. Contrary to expectation, tests show a negative relationship between plough use and both of these variables. The authors theorize that since children are less capable of performing the intensive labor required by plough agriculture compared to hoe agriculture, adoption of the plough deincentivized increased fertility and reduced its value among agriculturalists.

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