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Demographic Change and Development from Crowdsourced Genealogies in Early Modern Europe (August 2020) NEW!
Abstract This paper draws on a novel historical dataset crowdsourced from publicly available genealogies to study demographic change and development at the individual level in the distant past. I reconstruct fertility series, identify migration in and out of urban centers, and provide novel measures and stylized facts in a period without census and with millions of ordinary individuals observed in thirty countries. For each country, I carefully show that selection is limited in the data. Then, I document patterns of human mobility, fertility, and adult mortality in Early Modern Europe, through the Industrial Revolution and demographic transition. Finally, I present several findings at a disaggregated level suggesting that substantial and rapid changes in preferences took hold with the Age of Enlightenment and played an important role in the transition from stagnation to growth. In particular, I estimate the onset of the decline in fertility in France in the 1760s, a hundred years before the rest of Europe and earlier than previously thought, and I find a weaker intergenerational persistence of fertility behavior in Europe as early as in the late eighteenth century.