Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Stockholm Papers in Economic History,
Stockholm University, Department of Economic History

No 17: Pre-industrial population and economic growth: Was there a Malthusian mechanism in Sweden?

Rodney Edvinsson ()
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Rodney Edvinsson: Dept. of Economic History, Stockholm University, Postal: Department of Economic History , Stockholm University , SE 106 91 STOCKHOLM, Sweden

Abstract: This study examines whether there was a Malthusian equilibrium mechanism in Sweden 1630–1870. A unique data set on harvests, deaths, marriages and births is used to calculate cumulative elasticities of vital rates with respect to harvest. While earlier studies have mostly focused on the impact of real wage, this study contents that the calorie content of harvests is more related to Malthus’ concept of the ‘produce of land’. It finds that there indeed was a response of vital rates to harvest fluctuations, but there were important structural breaks. While positive checks attenuated after 1720, preventive checks were strengthened. After 1870 preventive checks disappeared, even if positive checks existed up to 1920. The results are robust to different models – DLM, ARMAX and SVAR – and trend specifications.

Keywords: demography; Maltus; mortality; fertility; economic history

JEL-codes: N13; N33; N53

43 pages, September 10, 2015

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