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THE EFFECT OF FERTILITY LIMITATION ON INTERGENERATIONAL SOCIAL MOBILITY: THE QUALITY–QUANTITY TRADE-OFF DURING THE DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSITION
JAN VAN BAVEL a1 a1 Department of Sociology, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium
The hypothesis that family size limitation by parents enhances the upward mobility chances of their children in (post)industrial populations has a long-standing record in many disciplines, including sociology and economics, as well as evolutionary anthropology and social biology. Yet the empirical record supporting or contradicting the theory is surprisingly limited. The aim of this contribution is to develop a test of the effect of family size limitation on children’s intergenerational mobility. This test is applied to an urban population in Belgium that was in the process of experiencing its demographic transition, including the decline of fertility, at the end of the 19th century. The results indicate that the effect of family size was strong, even after controlling for parental social status as well as birth order. Surprisingly, the effects of birth order and family size appear to be largely independent.