The Journal of Economic History


Family Income, Mortality, and Fertility on the Eve of the Demographic Transition: A Case Study of Rosny-Sous-Bois

David R. Weira1

a1 Visiting Associate Professor of Economics and Fellow of the Population Research Center, NORC and the University of Chicago, 1155 E. 60th St., Chicago, IL 60637.


This article combines uniquely detailed household-level tax assessments with reconstituted family histories for an eighteenth-century agricultural village near Paris. The tax records reveal substantial diversity in income among taxpayers despite the exemptions given privileged landowners. High-income households had significantly lower levels of infant and adult mortality, earlier age at marriage of the wife, and slightly lower rates of emigration by their surviving children. Marital fertility was high at all income levels. These classic Malthusian patterns were found at the household level more than a generation after the last great subsistence crises and resulted in a much higher local rate of replacement for the better-off families.