In the name of the father? Fertility, religion, and child naming in the demographic transition

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article shows that parents reveal information about their fertility behavior through how they name their children. I arrive at this finding from a detailed examination of the net fertility of 130,000 married couples in Ireland, a country known for its historically high fertility rate, circa 1911. After stringently accounting for couples’ occupation, religion, and location, I find higher fertility rates among couples who chose distinctly Catholic names and traditional names for their children, with the latter being particularly important. Exposure to towns and cities lowered net fertility and weakened preferences for traditional and Catholic names. Cumulatively, these findings highlight the role of traditional rural norms over explicitly religious influences in driving high fertility rates in Ireland. The impact of towns and cities in reducing net fertility suggests that Ireland’s sluggish urbanization was a key factor in its high historical fertility rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1793-1815
Number of pages23
JournalDemography
Volume58
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Demographic trantiiion
  • Fertility
  • Historical demography
  • Ireland
  • Naming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography

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