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Change and Persistence in the Age of Modernization: Saint-Germain-d'Anxure 1730-1895

Guillaume Blanc, Romain Wacziarg

NBER Working Paper No. 25490
Issued in January 2019
NBER Program(s):Program on the Development of the American Economy, Economic Fluctuations and Growth Program, Political Economy Program

Using a unique, comprehensive household-level dataset for a single French village from 1730 to 1895, we study the process of modernization during a period of rapid institutional and demographic transformation. We document changes in fertility, mortality, human capital and intergenerational mobility, looking for structural breaks associated with the French Revolution and paying close attention to the sequencing of changes associated with various aspects of modernization in the village. We find that the fall in fertility preceded the rise in education by several decades. Demographic change is plausibly associated with institutional and cultural change rather than with changes in the opportunity cost of children. The rise in education occurred mostly as the result of an increase in the supply of schooling due to the Guizot Law, rather than demand side forces. All these changes occurred in the absence of industrialization in and around the village. We conclude that institutional and cultural changes originating outside the village were likely the dominant forces explaining its modernization.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25490

 
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