Macrohistory Seminar – Philipp Ager (University of Southern Denmark)

Event details

  • Thursday, December 8
  • 12:15 PM
  • Kaiserplatz 7-9, 4th floor, Room 4.006

The Kindergarten Movement and the US Demographic Transition

Abstract: This paper examines how the diffusion of kindergartens during 1880-1910 (commonly referred to as the Kindergarten Movement) contributed to the fertility decline in US cities. Kindergartens were a German education technology that got transplanted to US communities by German immigrants starting from the mid-19th century. We first show that the size of initial German communities contributed to the diffusion of kindergartens in US cities. We then exploit this fact to observe that German communities are associated with the US fertility decline via the spread of kindergartens. We document that the underlying mechanism behind this fertility decline is that kindergartens substantially increased children’s returns to education such that parents started to trade-off quantity for quality.

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