Spatial analysis of the fertility transition in late 19th century Paris

Sandra Bree, Université Catholique de Louvain

This communication will analyse the spatial decline of fertility in the late 19th century Paris. If transversal analysis is not often used today to study the decline of fertility, it is almost inevitable to study large cities (due to heavy migration and population size), and all the more essential in the case of Paris, as the personal archives have disappeared in 1871. The originality of this paper also lies in the spatial approach to understand the spread of birth control in the neighborhoods of Paris for a quarter century. After having briefly traced the history of fertility in Paris in the nineteenth century, the analysis will focus exclusively on the period 1881 to 1901, the only one for which data by districts and neighborhoods are available. The research will involve in analysing the cards of legitimate fertility, and then doing classifications and typologies of the districts according to the rhythm and the intensity of their fertility decline. Preliminary results show that during the last quarter, the fertility of married couples varies widely between boroughs. The evolution of the differences indicates that the decline of marital fertility is due to the continual decline of fertility in the most contraceptive districts (up to a certain level) and to an intensification of birth control in the most fertile ones. The richest neighborhoods are the ones with the highest use of contraception. Birth control spreads from district to district, step by step. This strong geographic differentiation between districts seems to reveal a social determination of fertility behavior and suggests a kind of “contamination” of neighborhoods and thus diffusion.

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Presented in Poster Session 1

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