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Motivation and legitimation: living conditions, social control and the reproductive regimes in Belgium and France from the 16th through the 19th century.
Brussels, Belgium, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Interuniversity Programme in Demography, 1989. 46 p. (IPD Working Paper 1989-2)The economic, political, and social records of Belgium and France from the 16th through the 19th century were analyzed, and the influence of material living conditions, strategies of property transmission, and attempts by elites to alter popular culture on nuptiality and marital fertility during the period are detailed. Reasons for France's early marital fertility decline are compared with Belgium's more delayed transition. It is stressed that rising household income is not the only path the change. There are many paths to marital fertility transition. Historical analysis reveals that classic factors believed to lead to demographic transition do not explain the first half of the French fertility decline. Demographic transition is also possible as a result of economic and political crises forcing ideological overhaul. Explaining the nature of these alternate paths to change, the role of institutional actors such as religious and political agencies in competing for power and influence to impose and defend their ideologies is pointed out. These are active and dynamic agencies capable of altering strategies when required. Such agencies have had a significant impact on the course of demographic history in the 2 countries examined. Models of demographic change must incorporate the effect of these institutional agencies. The need for joint motivation and legitimation in effecting transition is discussed.