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The British Fertility Decline

The British Fertility Decline: Demographic Transition in the Crucible of the Industrial Revolution

Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 286
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  • Book Info
    The British Fertility Decline
    Book Description:

    Building on the theory of the demographic transition, Michael S. Teitelbaum assesses the dramatic decline in British fertility from 1841 to 1931 in terms of social transformations associated with the Industrial Revolution. His book is an intensive analysis of the British case at both county and national levels.

    Originally published in 1984.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5715-9
    Subjects: Population Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Tables
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-1)
  6. [Map]
    (pp. 2-2)
  7. Chapter 1: Introduction
    (pp. 3-11)

    It is now a commonplace that historical understanding requires knowledge of the history of population change. This is particularly evident with reference to the European Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. One of the major social changes of this period was the near-universal decline in fertility—a decline which across the whole of the European continent amounted to as much as 50 percent between 1850 and 1930. It is fair to say that this fertility decline represents one of the major transformations of European life. Yet the change was by no means homogeneous. The various regions and countries...

  8. Chapter 2: The Social and Economic Setting from 1750 to 1913
    (pp. 12-51)

    The demographic changes in nineteenth-century Britain must be understood in the context of the profound social and economic changes that characterized the century and a half beginning in about 1750. During this period, British society was transformed from an essentially agrarian and rural-based economy to that of the world’s leading industrial and colonial power. Hundreds of learned treatises have been written on the origins and consequences of this fundamental transformation, and the diversity and comprehensiveness of their analyses can hardly be approached here. My less ambitious purpose in this chapter is to provide a rudimentary outline of the most important...

  9. Chapter 3: Methods of Fertility Measurement
    (pp. 52-74)

    This chapter has two purposes: first, to explain the measures of fertility that will be used here, and have been used in the entire series of studies of the European fertility transition of which this book is a part; second, to examine the degree of completeness of birth registration in the early part of our period, and to make adjustments for major defects. This second problem relates exclusively to the early data for England and Wales and for Ireland. The Scottish data begin later, but, as has already been noted, are thought to be relatively complete from 1855 on. The...

  10. Chapter 4: Trends in Overall Fertility, 1841–1931
    (pp. 75-96)

    From one point of view the crude birth rate is anything but crude. If it is based on accurate data, it measures quite precisely one of the most important demographic facts of a community’s life. It tells us exactly the rate at which the population is being augmented by birth, just as the crude death rate tells us how the community is being depleted by death, and the difference of these rates tells us exactly the rate at which the fund of life is being changed by life’s initiating and terminal processes.

    What crude rates do not tell us, and...

  11. Chapter 5: Nuptiality Components of Fertility
    (pp. 97-113)

    The British Isles provide an excellent laboratory for the study of two alternative approaches to the control of fertility in the nineteenth century—what Ansley Coale has termed the Malthusian and the Neo-Malthusian approaches (Coale, 1969, pp. 6 and 7). Writing in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Malthus saw the answer to the problems of rapid population growth as lying in “moral restraint”—primarily the delay of marriage, with celibacy outside marriage. In contrast, the Neo-Malthusian answer to overly rapid growth was the restraint of fertilitywithinmarriage by means of contraception. Fortuitously from our point of view,...

  12. Chapter 6: Marital and Extramarital Fertility
    (pp. 114-152)

    Level and Trends in the Index of Marital Fertility(Ig),1851–1931(36).

    Near the middle of the nineteenth century, the level ofIgwas lowest in England and Wales at .675 and highest in Scotland at .742. Ireland (in 1871) was intermediate at .708.

    By European standards (Table 6.1) the figures for England and Wales and for Ireland were moderate, and those for Scotland toward the high end of the distribution, though still exceeded by countries such as the Netherlands, Norway, and probably Germany and Belgium.

    The trends ofIgin England and Wales, Scotland, and Ireland are shown in...

  13. Chapter 7: Alternative “Explanatory” Models of Marital Fertility Decline
    (pp. 153-191)

    Data as such do not explain. The extensive empirical data collected, calculated, and presented in the preceding chapters provide documentation of the phenomena that are to be explained by reference to additional evidence in the context of theory. And yet it must be recognized that it is a brave (or foolish) social scientist who seeks to provide comprehensive explanation of a complex social, economic, cultural, and possibly biological phenomenon such as the decline in marital fertility in the British Isles. In the first place, we do not have a very clear idea of the nature of the factors that might...

  14. Chapter 8: The Social and Economic Context of Fertility Decline
    (pp. 192-217)

    The quantitative analyses presented in Chapter 7 reflect our best efforts to account for the remarkably slight differences in the date of significant and sustained decline in marital fertility to be found in England and Wales, and of the somewhat larger differences to be found within Scotland and between Scotland and England. This analysis of differences cannot answer the broader questions as to why the decline in marital fertility occurred as late as it did in Great Britain (approximately simultaneously with the decline of marital fertility in Hungary, for example, and much later than in France).¹ Nor does the analysis...

  15. Chapter 9: Conclusions
    (pp. 218-227)

    It seems clear from what has been said before that socioeconomic, technological, and cultural factors were all plausible contributors to the decline of marital fertility in Britain. Disentangling the relative contribution of these general types of effects is likely to be a fruitless task, due both to the paucity of empirical data and to the likely interactions between types of factors. For example, a particular cultural setting might be more conducive to education, which might affect both literacy and female labor force participation, knowledge of and access to contraceptive technologies, lactation practices, nutrition, and sanitation. Numerous other strings of interactions...

  16. Appendix: Two Sets of County Boundaries, and Erroneous Figures for County Vital Rates in Nineteenth-Century Ireland
    (pp. 228-245)
    Edith Pantelides and Ansley J. Coale
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 246-262)
  18. Index
    (pp. 263-269)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 270-270)