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Mroz, Thomas A. & Weir, David R. (1990). Structural Change in Life Cycle Fertility during the Fertility Transition: France before and after the Revolution of 1789. Population Studies, 44(1), 61-87.


This paper explores the hypothesis that the fertility transition in France entailed a structural change in behaviour from natural to controlled fertility. We define the hypothesis in terms of an empirically estimable model of lifetime fertility. The model produces separate estimates of the three main proximate determinants: the hazard rate of conception for ovulating women, the timing of ovulation resumption after a birth, and permanent sterility. Fertility control is defined as responsiveness of the conception hazard to number of surviving children. We demonstrate key features of the model by simulated family histories. The historical application provides support for the transition hypothesis in the south of France, and mixed results for the north. We also find strong evidence of persistent couple-specific heterogeneity even after controlling for unobserved heterogeneity in fecundability. We suggest how future research might improve the model.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Population Studies


Mroz, Thomas A.
Weir, David R.