Dr Peng Zhou, Senior Lecturer in Economics, Cardiff University

Fertility versus Productivity: a Unified Growth Model of England with Natural Selection


A dynamic stochastic unified growth model is estimated from English economy data for almost a millennium. It shows that the escape from the Malthusian trap in England was not inevitable but was triggered by a demographic catastrophe. Household choice about target number and quality of children determine the trends of births, deaths, population and the real wage, which are closely matched by the estimated model. The model demonstrates that in the 19th century the generalised child price relative to the child quality price rose strongly, triggering the English fertility transition. The rising opportunity cost of education was as decisive for this transition as the parental shift to child quality. The contributions of other contributors, such as food prices and female literacy, are also estimated.


Dr Peng Zhou is a Senior Lecturer in Economics at Cardiff University. His research in macroeconomics, entrepreneurship and policy evaluation has been published in specialised books and peer-reviewed journals such as Regional Studies, Economic History Review, Applied Economics, Journal of Evolutionary Economics, The Manchester School and Journal of Consumer Behaviour. Meanwhile, he keeps a close connection with the industries, providing consultancy for Confused.com, Ausnutria Dairy Co., Ltd and Peril Capital Ltd. He also contributed to the quantitative evaluation of the Welsh government’s Independent Living Adaptation scheme in 2014 and investigating the health needs of the homeless in 2016 (jointly with Shelter Cymru).

Event date
Event Time
Smart Innovation Hub, SIHLG0.09
Professor Qihai Haung
Contact email
Contact telephone
+44 (0)1782 734279