"fertility may be a strategic choice for ethnic groups engaged in redistributive conflict"

The political economy of fertility (draft pdf):

This paper studies the political economy of fertility. I particularly ask whether fertility may be a strategic choice for ethnic groups engaged in redistributive conflict.1 There are at least two reasons why the answer could be affirmative. First, individuals in diverse societies tend to vote for co-ethnic political candidates, who then reward them with transfers, jobs, or local public goods (Young 1976, Bates 1981). Fertility should therefore increase an ethnic group’s voting power and gains from political office. Second, if ethnic groups allocate society’s resources via conflict or bargaining in the shadow of conflict (Horowitz 2000, Collier and Hoeffler 2004), then fertility might increase their combat strength.2 Importantly, however, these redistributive gains to fertility should mainly be present where weak institutions erode the security of property rights.

To further explore these issues, this paper presents a simple model of redistributive ethnic conflict with endogenous fertility. I then test the model in a cross-national dataset. Consistent with the theory, I find that economies with high ethnic diversity and/or weak institutions have higher fertility rates. I conclude that high fertility may have political roots.


Steve Sailer said...

The Catholic View v. Protestant View scenes in "Monty Python's Life of Brian" assume the thesis of this paper.

FredR said...

"Let social and economic conditions change, and population instantly responds. The arrival in the United States, between 1830 and 1840, and thereafter increasingly, of large numbers of degraded peasantry created for the first time in this country distinct social classes, and produced an alteration of economic relations which could not fail powerfully to affect population. The appearance of vast numbers of men, foreign in birth and often in language, with a poorer standard of living, with habits repellent to our native people, of an industrial grade suited only to the lowest kind of manual labor, was exactly such a cause as by any student of population would be expected to affect profoundly the growth of the native population. Americans shrank alike from the social contact and the economic competition thus created. They became increasingly unwilling to bring forth sons and daughters who should be obliged to compete in the market for labor and in the walks of life with those whom they did not recognize as of their own grade and condition."

n/a said...


I don't see any contradiction.

(1) Obviously, fertility will be affected by various forces, some acting in opposite directions.

(2) During the time period Walker was writing about, the US had strong institutions and non-"ethnic" Americans remained a dominant majority in the US as a whole. It's not hard to imagine diminished standards of living could have been more salient for natives than any sense of direct military or political threat from "ethnic" immigrants.