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Town and Country in Nineteenth-Century Germany: A Review of Urban-Rural Differentials in Demographic Behavior

Publication Abstract

Knodel, John E. 1977. "Town and Country in Nineteenth-Century Germany: A Review of Urban-Rural Differentials in Demographic Behavior." Social Science History, I(3): 356-82.

The age patterns of marital fertility levels and decline in modern Asia and historical Europe are analysed in order to answer two questions: (1) How closely do the age patterns of marital fertility in both areas prior to a systematic fertility decline conform to the age pattern of natural fertility? (2) How similar are the age patterns of the fertility transition experienced in Europe in the past, and the age pattern of fertility decline now under way in a number of Asian populations? The answers have important implications for our understanding of the fertility transition. They suggest that modern family limitation (i.e. parity-specific fertility control) was largely absent prior to a secular decline in marital fertility in both Europe and Asia. Furthermore, the evidence indicates that once the practice of family limitation starts to spread among the broader strata of the population, it seems almost inevitably to increase until it becomes a common behavioural norm. In this respect, the modern fertility transition appears to result from the spread of innovative behaviour and cannot be viewed simply as an adjustment to new socio-economic circumstances based on previously established behavioral mechanisms.


Cities, Fertility, Marriage, Demography, Urban populations, Rural populations, Towns, Female fertility, Mortality, Infant mortality

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