In this article we investigate the relation between population and real wages in the Italian economy during the period 1320–1870. The main result is that the positive check is strong and statistically significant but the other equilibrating mechanism in the Malthusian model – the preventive check – based on the positive relationship between fertility and real wages does not operate in pre-industrial Italy. In contrast to the Malthusian hypothesis, we find a negative feedback from wage to population. The empirical result is clearly consistent with the theoretical framework of the “old age security motive”. We show, with a simple overlappinggeneration model, that by allowing for substitution in a pre-industrial economy between child quantity and other assets (such as new seeds, better soybean quality, and new cultivation and irrigation methods) fertility may be negatively affected whenever income rises.

Was Malthus right? The relationship between population and real wages in Italian history, 1320 to 1870

2010

Abstract

In this article we investigate the relation between population and real wages in the Italian economy during the period 1320–1870. The main result is that the positive check is strong and statistically significant but the other equilibrating mechanism in the Malthusian model – the preventive check – based on the positive relationship between fertility and real wages does not operate in pre-industrial Italy. In contrast to the Malthusian hypothesis, we find a negative feedback from wage to population. The empirical result is clearly consistent with the theoretical framework of the “old age security motive”. We show, with a simple overlappinggeneration model, that by allowing for substitution in a pre-industrial economy between child quantity and other assets (such as new seeds, better soybean quality, and new cultivation and irrigation methods) fertility may be negatively affected whenever income rises.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11367/20324
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