Fertility and the Plough
The current study finds that societies which historically engaged in plough agriculture today have lower fertility. We argue, and provide ethnographic evidence, that the finding is explained by the fact that with plough agriculture, children, like women, are relatively less useful in the field. The plough requires strength and eliminates the need for weeding, a task particularly suitable for women and children. This in turn generates a preference for fewer children, lowering fertility.
We are grateful to the discussant Edward Miguel, as well as Raquel Fernandez, Oded Galor, and Judith Hellerstein for valuable comments. We also thank Eva Ng for research assistance. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Alberto Alesina & Paola Giuliano & Nathan Nunn, 2011. "Fertility and the Plough," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 499-503, May. citation courtesy of