The cultural transmission of the fertility transition: Evidence from internal migrations in 19th century France

France experienced a demographic transition earlier than richer and more educated countries. This presentation offers a novel explanation for this puzzle that emphasises the diffusion of culture and information through internal migration. It tests how migration affected fertility by building a decennial bilateral migration matrix between French regions for 1861–1911. The identification strategy uses exogenous variation in transportation costs resulting from the construction of railways. The results suggest the convergence towards low birth rates can be explained by the diffusion of low-fertility norms by migrants, especially by migrants to and from Paris.