Analysis of the Relationship between Gender Equality and Economic Growth 

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Natural Balance of Mortality and Fertility

The understanding of the balance between variations in mortality levels and fertility rates is essential to determine the possible causes at the origin of the process of demographic transition. Chesnais (1992) advances three criteria to determine whether a country enter in the process of demographic transition (Figure 1-4). A country is considered as having entered the process of demographic transition if: (i) the crude birth rate declines below the threshold of 35 births per one thousand people; (ii) the growth rate of crude births experiences a sustained decline of at least 20%; and (iii) life expectancy at birth exceed the age of 50. Based on data from Chesnais and INSEE, the first criterion was already reached in 1800. The second criterion was reached in 1829. And finally, the third criterion was attained at the beginning of the 19th century – in 1907.

Changing Patterns of Demographic Behavior

During the demographic transition, fertility fell sharply in parallel to the decline in mortality. The data suggests the existence of significant fertility limitation in France during the 19th century. We emphasize the existence of two main types of fertility behavior according to the strategy adopted by individuals and households. Fertility regulation can be the result of traditional means of control such as sexual abstinence, delaying age at first marriage, celibacy, age at first birth. But it can also be the result of more “modern” behaviors consisting in a direct control of the number of births within marriage through spacing out interval between births or stopping child-bearing at a certain age.

Age at First Marriage

The second characteristic of the European marriage pattern is the rising age at first marriage. Figure 1-6 presents the evolution of the median age at marriage by gender between 1740 and 2004. The long-run evolution of the median age at first marriage for both male and female follows a U-shaped curve.
The female and male age at marriage follow a fairly similar evolution taking into consideration that men always marry older than women. The age of male at marriage reached 29 at the end of the Ancien Régime, while that of women reached 27. Relatively late during the second half of the 18th century, the average age at marriage dropped a few years before the turn of the 19th century – at a faster pace and to a greater extent for women (while it was briefly stabilizing around age 28 in the mid-19th century). The age at first marriage attained its lowest point in the 1950’s with a median age of 22.5 for women and 24.6 for men. After a short period of stagnation at these lowest rates ever achieved (slightly longer for women than for men), the trend reversed again (from the sixties for women and a little before for men). From that moment, the rise was fast and sustained. Over the period of forty years, the median age at marriage increased by more than 7.5 years for both women and men, to reach almost 30 and 32 respectively in 2004.

Illegitimate Births

The last feature of the European marriage pattern is the low number of illegitimate births. Figure 1-7 shows the evolution of the share of illegitimate births (between 1740 and 1913) and the evolution of the number of legitimate births by women’s age for six periods (between 1660 and 1839) in the city of Meulan for 1000 families. Focusing first on illegitimate births, we note that prior to the French Revolution the share of illegitimate births was fairly low. Over the 1780-1789 period, only 2.6 per one hundred births were illegitimate. The increase in the frequency of illegitimate births began already before the fateful period of the Revolution. The growth rate accelerated from that period until the 1830’s. The frequency of illegitimate births then oscillated around 7.4 per 100 births. The resumption of the rise occurred in the 1870’s and stabilized at 8.7 at the turn of the 20th century. Therefrom, the frequency of illegitimate births increased sharply between the mid-18th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Close from 1% on the period 1740-45, it reached almost 9% in 1911-13.

Early Contraception – Birth Control

An alternative method of fertility limitation via nuptiality is to act directly on the number of births within marriage. A classical measure of birth limitation consists in investigating birth intervals and age at last birth. The study of the evolution of birth interval reflects changes in households’ behaviors regarding fertility.
Dûpaquier and Lachiver (1969) have highlighted the existence of early birth control and notably an incipient of flexure from the mid-18th century in their study of families living in the city of Meulan (Seine-et-Oise). From the mid-18th century indeed, the share of couples displaying close (less than 18 month) and medium (between 19 and 30 month) birth interval declined. Between the periods 1669-1709 and 1790-1814, the share of couples with short birth interval dropped from 11.6% to 2.9% and that of couples with medium interval from 60.2% to 23.5%. On the contrary, long (31 to 48 months) and very long (49 months and more) birth interval increased, from 18.8% to 27.1% and from 9.4% to 59.4% respectively.7 Meulan is not an isolated case, similar trends are also observed in other cities such as Flins, Arthies, Suresnes and Paris-East, as can be observed in the following set of figures. Figure 1-8 presents the evolution by periods of births spacing in these four cities between the 18th century and the early 19th century. It is important to specify that all these cities are located in three of the most urbanized and early industrialized areas of France. We can imagine that the demographic behavior and the timing of birth limitation may differ from other regions of France with other characteristics, for instance more rural and agrarian areas. The study of the geographical distribution of Malthusian behaviors in Section 3 will help us with the understanding of the specificities of French areas.

Women Age at Last Birth

Fertility may also depend on the length of fertile period and on the moment at which individuals decide to stop having children. Figure 1-10 illustrates the average mothers’ age at last pregnancy in four villages of the Morvan (Côte-d’Or) between 1660 and 1839. More precisely, it displays the maximum number of living children at last pregnancy per 100 households.8 We observe that if the number of women with a short (stopped before the age of 35) or medium (stopped at class age of 35-39) fertile period remained rather stable over the considered time period, that of long (stopped at class age of 40-44) and very long (stopped at class age of 45-49) fertile period decreased significantly during the second half on the 18th century. Couples who stopped to have children after class age of 35-40 are considered as limiting their fertility (Bardet, 1988).
According to Dupâquier and Lachiver (1969), in a situation of generalized Malthusianism resulting from a decline in infant mortality, households should exhibit about the same dimension at last pregnancy. Therefore, if all children survive, this situation should occur at young age for women. From Figure 1-10, we observe that the gap in terms of number of living children indeed reduced over time between female age-groups – suggesting the existence of Malthusian behaviors. However, the persistence of a difference even smaller suggests that not the entire population behave in such a way.

The Evolution of the Female Labor Force

Before 1896, the counting of census forms was made at the municipal administration level. The Statistique Générale de la France was simply responsible for gathering county-level summaries sent by the Prefects. The counting became centralized from 1896. The 1851 census does not give any explanation about the methodology used to collect information. However, that of 1856 describes precisely how the census was conducted and what questions have been asked. It is thereby notified that the number of individuals in the category of professionals is likely to be underestimated because of the neglect of the census staff responsible for the occupation survey. A significant number of people working in these occupations were classified wrongly in the category of individuals without a profession. In addition, it is also important to note that, in 1856, the administration did not yet introduce any distinction specifying whether individuals were engaged in the occupation or were living from the occupation. Similar to the British data, for the census collected in the first half of the 19th century the “assumption that the household, rather that the individual, was the working unit is reflected in the way the data were collected” (Burnette, 2008). As a consequence, the labor force is likely to be substantially over-estimated in some branch of activities and under-estimated in others (certainly a small proportion) especially for women. Corrected data by Marchand and Thélot (1997) indicate that the female labor force participation should rather be around 40% and the male labor force close to 80% while our non-corrected data suggest a female and a male labor force participation of 89.74% and 92.27% respectively.
Table 1 shows the occupational distribution from the 1856 census. More precisely, it displays the top 8 sectors in terms of female labor force participation and the main occupations for each sector (most popular occupational categories for women), and the corresponding male labor force in each sector. Despite the errors in the counting, Table 1 can give us a broad picture of the occupational distribution of major female occupations in 1856.

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Transformation of the Social Structure of the labor force

The previous sub-section focused on the general evolution of the female labor force within the three major sectors of the economy. However, throughout French economic development, dramatic changes occurred in the social structure of the labor force itself. Henceforth, we aim at going deeper in the analysis of the social structure of women’s employment by focusing on the evolution of the employment rate within each social group (distribution of the female employment among the social categories). This classification allows for a distinction between agricultural laborers and agricultural owners (farmers), captains of industry and trade, workers, officers and employees, domestics and then between three smaller categories: liberal professions, army-police and clergy. The evolution of the social structure of the female and male labor force participation between 1866 and 1982 is presented in Figure 2-3.

Regional Dynamics of the Labor force

An opposition tends to emerge between an aging agricultural France and a younger France in the industrial and service sectors. It seems now necessary to investigate the geographical trend and the geographical distribution of the labor force across French districts. Our purpose consists of focusing on the heterogeneity of French counties by branch of activities in order to better understand the global dynamic of the country. Figure 2-7 shows the geographical concentration of the labor force by branch in 1851. We distinguish five sectors: agriculture, large-scale industry, small-scale industry, liberal professions and domestic activities.
From Figure 2-2, we noticed previously that the agricultural world declined between the first and second half of the 19th century. Focusing on the geographical distribution of the labor force, we observe a strong heterogeneity between French districts. The most visible geographical difference concerns agriculture and industry. A line of demarcation appears between the Northeastern part of France which is more industrialized and the other part of the country which is more agrarian. The map of the agricultural labor force also appears opposite to that of liberal professions. We clearly see that counties with the largest number of agricultural workers (center of the Southern half of the country – Massif Central) exhibit the lowest number of individuals working in a liberal profession. Conversely, counties with the highest number of liberal workers exhibit low rates of agricultural workers (with the exception of Corse).

Table of contents :

Part I. Understanding the Process of Development. An Economic History of French Women 
Chapter 1 – Changes in Demographic Behavior
1. The Demographic Transition
1.1. Evolution of Mortality Levels
1.2. Evolution of Fertility Levels
1.3. Natural Balance of Mortality and Fertility
2. Changing Patterns of Demographic Behavior
2.1. Marriage Pattern
2.1.1. Celibacy
2.1.2. Age at First Marriage
2.1.3. Illegitimate Births
2.2. Birth Limitation
2.2.1. Early Contraception – Birth Control
2.2.2. Birth Intervals between Rich and Poor
2.2.3. Women Age at Last Birth
3. Transformations of the French Demographic Landscape
3.1. Geographical Distribution of Fertility Rates
3.2. Explaining Geographical Differences in Fertility Decline
3.2.1. Specific Initial Demographic Characteristics
3.2.2. Fertility Regulation
3.2.3. Explaining Geographic Differences in Marriage Pattern
Appendix A
Chapter 2 – Changes in the Labor Force
1. The Evolution of the Female Labor Force
1.1. General characteristics of the Labor Force Participation by Gender since 1806
1.1.1. The Expansion of the Female Labor Force Participation
1.1.2. Changes in the labor force by sectors
1.1.3. Transformation of the Social Structure of the labor force
1.2. Life Cycle Labor Force Participation
1.2.1. Female Labor Force by Marital Status
1.2.2. Female Labor Force by Age
1.2.3. Impact of Variations in Labor Force
1.3. Regional Dynamics of the Labor force
2. General Characteristics of the Gender Gap
2.1. The Gender Gap in Earnings and Occupations
2.1.1. The Gender Gap in Occupations
2.1.2. The Gender Gap in Earnings over the Long Run
2.2. Regional Dynamics of the Gender Gap
2.2.1. Gender Differences in Occupations
2.2.2. Gender Differences in Earnings
2.2.3. Productivity versus Customs
Chapter 3 – Changes in Human Capital
1. General Characteristics of the Evolution of the Female Human Capital
1.1. Overview of Literacy Rates by Marital Status in 1851
1.1.1. Age-heaping and Literacy
1.1.2. Gender Differences in Age-heaping
1.2. The Gradual Expansion of Schooling
1.2.1. Primary Education and Feminization (with Claude Diebolt)
1.2.2. Secondary Education
1.2.3. Higher Education
1.3. Changes in Educational Investments and Aspirations
1.3.1. Years of Schooling
1.3.2. Diploma
1.3.3. Field of Specialization
2. Regional Dynamics of Schooling
2.1. Geographical Evolution of Female Literacy Rates
2.2. Distribution of Enrollment Rates in Primary Schools (with Claude Diebolt)
2.2.1. The Situation of Primary education in 1837
2.2.2. Evolution of Primary Education between 1837 and 1876
2.3. Geographical Evolution of Infrastructures
3. The Gender Gap in Human Capital
3.1. General Characteristics of the Gender Gap
3.1.1. The Gender Gap in Enrollment Rates
3.1.2. The Gender Gap in Educational Attainment and Specialization
3.1.3. The Gender Quality of the Labor Force
3.2. Regional Dynamics of the Gender Schooling Gap
Appendix C
Chapter 4 – Changes in Gender Relations
1. Family Organization and Gender Relations: The Role of Female Empowerment
1.1. The “Traditional” Role of Women
1.2. The Emergence of a New Socio-economic Role of Women
1.3. The “Quiet Revolution”
2. Regional Dynamics of the Gender Gap
2.1. The Gender Gap Index
2.1.1. Methodology of the Gender Gap Index
2.1.2. Geographical distribution of the Gender Gap Index
2.1.3. Links with Economic Performance and Demographic Profile
2.2. Gender Gap and Socioeconomic Status. The Positioning of French Counties
2.2.1. Methodology
2.2.2. Variables and sources
2.2.3. Factor Analysis
2.2.4. The Positioning of French Counties in mid-19th Century
Appendix D
Part II. Analysis of the Relationship between Gender Equality and Economic Growth 
Chapter 5 – Theoretical Foundations
1. The Stylized Facts of the Development Process
1.1. Evolution of Output and Population Growth in France
1.2. The Three Phases of the Development Process
1.2.1. Stagnation – Malthusian Era
1.2.2. Take-off – Post-Malthusian Phase
1.2.3. Sustained Growth – Modern Growth Regime
1.3. Main Challenges
2. Toward a Unified Theory of Growth
2.1. Theoretical Background
2.1.1. Traditional Theories of Economic Growth
2.1.2. Theories of Demographic Transition
2.2. Unified Growth Theory
2.2.1. Building Blocks of the Theory
2.2.2. Toward Greater Integration of Gender in UGT
Appendix E
Chapter 6 – Unified Growth Model
1. Basic Structure of the Model
1.1. Production
1.1.1. Production of Final Output
1.1.2. The Production of Human Capital
1.1.3. Technological Progress
1.2. Individuals
1.2.1. Preferences and Budget Constraint
1.2.2. The Household Choice Problem
1.2.3. Choice of Human Capital and Fertility
1.3. Distribution of Labor Types
2. The Dynamic Evolution of the Economy
2.1. Dynamic Evolution of the Key Variables
2.1.1. The Fraction of Skilled Individuals
2.1.2. Dynamic Evolution of Gender Equality
2.1.3. Process of Technological Process
2.2. The Dynamical System
2.3. The Global Dynamics of Development
2.3.1. Non-Developed Economy
2.3.2. Transitory Economy
2.3.3. Developed Economy
Chapter 7 – Quantity-Quality Trde-off. Evidence from 19th Cnetury France
1. Related Literature
2. A County-Level Database for France
3. Evidence on the Relation between Fertility and Education in 1851
3.1. Empirical Model
3.2. Results
4. Long-run Effect of Endowment in Human Capital on Fertility Transition
4.1. Empirical Model
4.2. Results
Appendix G
General Conclusion


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