Research By Professor Jane Humphries Investigates Long-Run English Demographic Trends

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In a new European Economic Review paper, Professor Jane Humphries and co-authors analyze the living standards and demographic behavior of English families from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. Professor Humphries and her co-authors Sara Horrell (LSE) and Jacob Weisdorf (Rome Sapienza) show that these new data sources reveal demographic behavior that responded to gendered changes in incomes and earning opportunities.

This paper builds on their extensive research into daily and annual wages of women, men, and children to investigate marriage age and fertility trends that had previously only been analyzed using male wages. They show that higher wages for men reduced male marriage ages, while increases in women's earnings (when working on annual contracts) raised male marriage ages. Higher fertility depressed children's wages as well as women's pay for daily work. They also provide further evidence for a Malthusian relationship between men's earnings and population size during the Medieval period.