Socio-economic status and fertility in an urban context at the end of the nineteenth century: a linked records study from Tartu, Estonia

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Gortfelder, M 
Klesment, M 

The topic of socio-economic fertility differences and its causes during the demographic transition has received a significant amount of attention in historical demography. With few exceptions, however, the previous studies have dealt with Western Europe. This paper increases the geographic range of the literature and investigates the influence of socio-economic status on marital fertility in an urban population of Tartu, a mid-sized university town in Estonia. Unlike previous studies, we perform both a cross-sectional analysis – using census data to analyse net marital fertility – and event history analysis – using linked-records sample to analyse the probability of next birth after the census. We measure socio-economic status based on the husband’s occupation, but also include information on the level of her education, employment and migration status. In line with the literature, our results confirm that women belonging to the highest social group to have considerably lower marital fertility in the early phase of transition. However, there is no linear social gradient in fertility in Tartu. Instead, we find women married to professionals and skilled workers to have higher fertility, whereas low fertility is exhibited also by women married to men working in the low-wage service sector. We fail to find any support that the educational level of the woman was differentiating fertility in the late nineteenth century Tartu. We relate these patterns in fertility to both adjustment to structural forces as well as innovation and diffusion of new demographic behaviour experienced by the local urban population during the fertility transition.

Socio-economic status, fertility transition, historical demography, child-woman ratios, discrete-time event history
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History of the Family
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Informa UK Limited
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