Walker Hanlon, NYU Stern School of Business

"Censorship, Family Planning, and the British Demographic Transition"

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Starting in 1877, Britain experienced a substantial and persistent decline in fertility. We establish a causal link between the timing of this decline and the public release of family planning information that resulted from the famous Bradlaugh-Besant trial. Our empirical approach exploits plausibly exogenous variation in latent demand for family planning information based on the salience of maternal mortality. Results indicate that, following the trial, birth rates fell more rapidly in places where maternal mortality risk was more salient. Families with more children born before the trial were the most responsive to this information. These results highlight the complementarity between fundamental drivers of the demographic transition and norms surrounding the idea of family planning.

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