Economic Factors and Fertility Decline in France and Belgium

  • R. Lesthaeghe
  • E. van de Walle
Part of the International Economic Association Series book series (IEA)


If the populations of the developing world were perceiving their best economic interest with the same logic as members of the academic profession, the birth-rate would be low where income per head is low and fertility control would be an accepted method of influencing the well-being of individuals. Logically, large families would prevail in rich countries and among rich people, and the poor would get no children. Unfortunately this kind of reasoning is of little help. The etymology of proletarian is proles, progeny. Even two hundred years ago, Jacques the Fatalist was granting to his master: ‘Nothing populates like the rabble.’


Infant Mortality Demographic Transition Fertility Decline Marital Fertility Occupational Structure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. P. Bourdieu, ‘Célibat et condition paysanne’, Etudes Rurales, 5–6 (1962) 32–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. R. Braun, ‘Early Industrialization and Demographic Changes in the Canton of Zürich (Switzerland)’, mimeographed paper given at Princeton Seminar (1972).Google Scholar
  3. R. Cantillon, Essai sur la nature du commerce en général, first published 1755, I.N.E.D. (1952).Google Scholar
  4. H. Charbonneau, Tourouvre-au-Perche aux xviie et xviiie siècles, I.N.E.D., Travaux et Documents, cahier no. 55 (Presses Univ. de France, 1970 ) pp. 107–11.Google Scholar
  5. P. Chaunu, La civilisation de l’Europe classique, Les Grandes Civilisations (Arthaud, 1966 ) p. 190.Google Scholar
  6. A. J. Coale, ‘The Decline of Fertility in Europe from the French Revolution to World War II’, Fertility and Family Planning: A World View, ed. S. J. Behrman, Leslie Corsa and Ronald Freedman (Ann Arbor, 1969 ) pp. 3–24.Google Scholar
  7. J. Dupâquier, ‘De l’animal à l’homme: le mécanisme auto-régulateur des populations traditionnelles’, Revue de l’Institut de sociologie, 2 (1972) 177–211.Google Scholar
  8. J. Dupâquier and M. Demonet, ‘Ce qui fait les familles nombreuses’, Annales E.S.C. (July—Oct 1972 ) 1025–45.Google Scholar
  9. H. J. Habakkuk, ‘Family Structure and Economic Change in Nineteenth-Century Europe’, Journal of Economic History, xv, 1 (1955) 1–12.Google Scholar
  10. E. W. Hofstee, ‘Regionale verscheidenheid in de ontwikkeling van het aantal geboorten in Nederland in de 2e helft van de 19e eeuw’, Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, Akademiedagen, vol. 7 (1954).Google Scholar
  11. R. Lesthaeghe, “Vruchtbaarheidscontrole, nuptialiteit en sociaaleconomische ver-anderingen in België, 1846–1910’, Bevolking en Gezin, 2 (1972) 251–99.Google Scholar
  12. W. Petersen, ‘The Demographic Transition in the Netherlands’, American Socio-logical Review, 25, 3 (1960) 334–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. D. Ricardo, The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation first published 1817, (Everyman’s Library, 1911) p. 53.Google Scholar
  14. J. J. Spengler, France Faces Depopulation (Durham, 1938 ), p. 73.Google Scholar
  15. E. van de Walle, The Female Population of France in the Nineteenth Century (Princeton, 1973).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The International Economic Association 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Lesthaeghe
    • 1
  • E. van de Walle
    • 1
  1. 1.Office of Population ResearchPrincetonUSA

Personalised recommendations