Revolutionary transition: Inheritance change and fertility decline (with Victor Gay and Marc Goñi)

Category: Quantitative Economic Policy Seminar
When: 30 June 2022
, 14:00
 - 15:15
Where: TBA
Speaker: Paula Gobbi


"France's demographic transition occurred a century before any other country's. We test Le Play's hypothesis that this demographic transition was triggered by the harmonization of inheritance practices after the French Revolution. After a series of laws implemented in 1793, the Loi de Nivôse, year II, imposed the equality principle, effectively abolishing impartible inheritance practices that excluded non-heirs from inheriting. In regions that moved from impartible to partible inheritance, we expect fertility to decline if parents face indivisibility constraints on their assets. In areas that removed the exclusion of women, we expect fertility to decline because of a delay in marriage ages. We compiled a harmonized map of inheritance practices before the French Revolution to test these hypotheses. We distinguish between partible vs. impartible inheritance and practices that exclude vs. include women. To estimate the effect of these inheritance practices on fertility, we exploit the 1793 harmonization in a difference-in-differences framework. We find that the inheritance reform reduced fertility by half a child on average."