The Beckerian and the Darwinian Trade-off of Children in Chinese Families: Transmission of Fertility across Generations in China, 1400-1900.

Sijie Hu , London School of Economics

The paper mainly studies the survival of Chinese families and the strategies applied to achieve the continuity of bloodlines in the long run. Two different kinds of trade-off would be examined in the paper, the Beckerian trade-off, quantity-quality trade-off of offspring, and also the Darwinian trade-off, trade-off between parental/grand-parental fertility and next-generation fertility. The paper mainly addresses the following research questions: Did the two types of trade-off exist in Chinese families? Did Chinese parents sacrifice the number of children they produced to invest more into the quality of the children? What were the shared characteristics of the survived descent lines? Because of the nature of genealogical records, I can identify the survived branches in a certain lineage and also compare these survived branches across different lineages. By studying their different fertility decisions and individuals’ social status and educational attainment, this research is going to reveal the determinants that affect the survival of a branch in Chinese lineages.

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 Presented in Session 23. Historical Demography