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Inheritance, Demographics, and Economic Development

Project description

A closer look at how inheritance and demographics jointly affect economic development

Was the French Revolution responsible for the first ever demographic transition? What were the relevant channels (partible inheritance and inclusion of women)? How did the abolition of the eldest son's exclusive right of inheritance affect the elites' demographic transition? How did the European marriage pattern (late marriages and high lifelong celibacy) vary across inheritance systems? How does land scarcity affect the relationship between inheritance practices, family structures and demographics? The EU-funded IDED project will answer these questions and more to uncover the effects of inheritance on economic outcomes. Specifically, it will create new databases for European countries between the 17th and 19th centuries and sub-Saharan African countries during the past century. The findings will shed light on wealth distribution and the implications of inheritances schemes for economic development.

Objective

Economists study inheritance and demographics in isolation, overlooking the feedback effects between the two. This is surprising given that other social scientists have typically related inheritance schemes to family structures. The general objective of this proposal is to understand the implications of these interconnections for the process of economic development.

First, I will create new databases for European countries between the seventeenth and the nineteenth centuries and for Sub-Saharan African countries during the past century until today. These will allow to cover demographic transitions, a crucial stage in the development process in which drastic demographic changes occur, and the period before. These databases will allow establishing facts relating inheritance schemes, family structures and demographic variables. Second, I will propose structural models of inheritance, family structures, marriage and fertility in order to rationalize these facts. These models will assess the importance of the relationship between inheritance and demographics when studying the effect of inheritance on economic outcomes.

The databases and structural models will provide answers to specific applied research questions: (i) The Demographic Transition: Was the French Revolution responsible for the demographic transition? What were the relevant channels (partible inheritance and inclusion of women)? How did the abolition of primogeniture affect the elites’ demographic transition? (ii) The European Marriage Pattern: how did its characteristics; late marriages and high life-long celibacy, vary across inheritance systems? Which one of these was most beneficial for gender empowerment? (iii) Sub-Saharan Africa’s demographic transitions: Can the harmonization of inheritance practices reactivate stalling demographic transitions? How does land scarcity affect the relationship between inheritance practices, family structures, and demographics?

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Coordinator

UNIVERSITE LIBRE DE BRUXELLES
Net EU contribution
€ 1 376 916,00
Address
Avenue franklin roosevelt 50
1050 Bruxelles / brussel
Belgium

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Region
Région de Bruxelles-Capitale/Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest Région de Bruxelles-Capitale/ Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest Arr. de Bruxelles-Capitale/Arr. Brussel-Hoofdstad
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)