The Implications of Experience and Expectations for Demographic Decisions: Germany, 1871-2000

Prof. Dr. Jochen Streb, Mannheim (Principal Investigator)

Prof. Dr. Timothy W. Guinnane, Yale (Associate)

Katerina Piro, Mannheim


The central purpose of this project is to study how individuals (or couples) formed their expectations relevant to demographic decision-making in the late nineteenth and twentieth century. In principle, historical expectations can be observed in two different ways. Economists prefer to infer expectations from observable economic behavior related to the underlying expectations. In contrast, historians rely on individual testimonies taken from written sources such as diaries and letters. We propose to combine both methods. On the one hand, we will use econometric analysis to identify changes in marriage and fertility rates that might have been caused by short-term (and long-term) changes in expectations. For this purpose we require three different types of data sets. The first data set will concentrate on monthly marriage and fertility rates on the German level. The second one will be a cross-section with region- or district-specific demographic and economic data. The third data set will make use of the more detailed information provided by population censuses. In addition to this statistical data, we will examine historical diaries collected in the Deutsches Tagebucharchiv (German Diary Archives). Content analysis of historical diaries will yield information about what individuals knew at the point of decision making, and how they formed and changed their expectations. We consider the whole range of models of expectations suggested by the literature, such as, for example, adaptive and rational expectations or economic learning. In particular, we want to learn more about the sources the individuals used to update their information. The results of the content analysis will then be used in our econometric models.



Lehmann-Hasemeyer, Sibylle/Streb, Jochen: Does Social Security Crowd Out Private Savings? The Case of Bismarck’s System of Social Insurance, in: European Review of Economic History 22 (2018), pp. 298-321

Lehmann-Hasemeyer, Sibylle/Streb, Jochen (2018): Discrimination against Foreigners. The Wuerttemberg Patent Law in Administrative Practice. Working Papers of the Priority Programme 1859 "Experience and Expectation. Historical Foundations of Economic Behaviour" No 7 (September), Berlin

Piro, Katerina: Kinderwunsch im Krieg: Kriegserfahrung und Fertilität in Deutschland im Zweiten Weltkrieg, in: Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte/Economic History Yearbook 59 (2/2018), pp. 471–505