Fertility Revolution Theory Analysis

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The system described by Malthus, known as “Malthusian Trap”, shows evidence of how, in the pre-industrial period, population went through a period of stagnation. Malthus’s doctrine funds itself on the idea that “Population has a tendency to multiply itself beyond the conditions of subsistence”. In particular, marriages would increase arithmetically while the progeny geometrically, but population is maintained at a mere level of subsistence for births are subject to moral restraint, so as to define the life of men a “struggle of existence” (Welling 1888). Additionally, Malthus found a correspondence between population and food supply, i.e. the for-mer depends on the latter in a way that kept population at an equilibrium level through two possible ways: preventive checks (contraception, late age of marriage), and positive checks (war, famine) (Lesthaeghe 1980). How-ever, such a theory is not able to explain the fertility decline that character-ized the 19th century Europe. Referring to what happened in Europe in the period mentioned above, Easterlin and Crimmins coined the term “Fertility revolution”. The nature of this historical change remains controversial for most historians. In a general framework, theories can fall in two different categories: “innovation diffusion” or “adaptation”. The…show more content…
The greatest difference between them proves to be the segment of population from which the fertility decline was generat-ed: the poorest in England and the richest in France. In the first case the main suggestion which can be deduced is that the predominant cause of the transition is the willingness to avoid downward social mobility. In the second case, contrarily, the cause could have been the desire to achieve a change in the environment of social
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