Monday, April 25, 2011

Development, family size, and female empowerment

Recently Jill Lepore wrote an op-ed about Jane Mecom, Benjamin Franklin's sister. Lepore provides insight into the conditions of women and families in 18th century America, remarking that high fertility (and very high infant mortality) and lack of education were critical impediments to improving well-being. Toward the end of the piece, she mentions the decline in U.S. fertility rates starting in the late 17th or early 18th century, an abnormally early transition toward smaller families described in this economic history piece by Michael Haines.