Demographic Economics


David de la Croix and Fabio Mariani

Research Projects

Sponsor Project Title IRES Promoters IRES Researchers Beginning End

Human capital and secularization: Civil vs religious marriages in Italy

Project description:

This research is concerned with the interplay between human capital accumulation and secularization, as measured by the prevalence of civil marriages.

By taking advantage of Census data for Italy (panel of ~ 8000 municipalities, 1971-2011) and a dataset of exceptional quality covering all Italian marriages from 1969 to 2017, we first aim at establishing empirically a robust correlation between educational attainment and civil marriages. We also want to understand how the above correlation depends on socio-economic factors (such as social capital and family ties), varies across space and evolves over time - namely after the legalization of divorce in 1970. Moreover, our data allow us to link the secularization process with gender, marriage-market characteristics, and inequality.

In order to make sense of our empirical results, we propose a theory which focuses on the economic incentives related to marriage, while remaining agnostic about possible direct effects of human capital on religiosity (through critical thinking, scientific knowledge, etc.). We thus build a model in which education, religiosity and marriage type are optimally chosen by utility-maximizing individuals. In this framework, we determine the equilibrium share of civil marriages, see how it is related to average human capital and religious practice, and analyze the consequences of the legalization of divorce.

We also investigate a politico-economic extension of our model, where political preferences towards the legalization of divorce arise endogenously and depend on education, religiosity and marriage choices. The results of the model can be brought back to the data, relying on newly collected information (at the municipality level) from the 1974 Italian referendum on divorce.

Fabio Mariani   2018 2019

Family transformations, incentives and norms

Project description:

Over the last century, marriage and the family have undergone radical evolutions. New patterns such as blended families or same-sex couples have emerged, divorce rates have increased, and fertility has gone down. These trends are both the cause and the outcome of value changes. By gathering economists from IRES and demographers from DEMO, this project aims at shedding light on the mechanisms that drive this type of family transformations, and on their consequences. Two main research directions will be developed. The first concerns the formation of the couple. It will notably investigate the evolution, drivers and consequences of the matching between partners; the emergence of new forms of marriages and their coexistence with old ones; and the interactions between the degree of endogamy in the society and economic development across time and space. The second part of the project focuses on the construction of the family and choices in terms of fertility, and will notably document the phenomenon of childlessness, the optimal age for pregnancy, and the interactions between religion and fertility. Across these various issues and following the fil rouge of the family cycle – from the formation of the couple to the enlargement of the family –, interactions and complementarities between the two disciplines and their different methodologies are expected to be very beneficial.

David de la Croix et Fabio Mariani   2015 2020



Journal Articles

1. Pensieroso, Luca; Sommacal, Alessandro. Agriculture to industry: The end of intergenerational coresidence. In: Review of Economic Dynamics, Vol. 34, p. 87-102 (2019). doi:10.1016/

2. Brée, Sandra; de la Croix, David. Key forces behind the decline of fertility: lessons from childlessness in Rouen before the industrial revolution. In: Cliometrica : journal of historical economics and econometric history, Vol. 13, no. 1, p. 25-54 (January 2019). doi:10.1007/s11698-017-0166-9.

3. de la Croix, David; Schneider, Eric; Weisdorf, Jacob. Childlessness, Celibacy and Net Fertility in Pre-industrial England: The Middle-Class Evolutionary Advantage. In: Journal of Economic Growth, Vol. 24, no.3, p. 223-256 (2019). doi:10.1007/s10887-019-09170-6.

4. de la Croix, David; Fabre, Alice. À la découverte des professeurs de l’ancienne université d’Aix, de ses origines à 1793. In: Annales du Midi : revue de la France Meridionale, (2019). (Accepté/Sous presse).

5. Batyra, Anna; de la Croix, David; Pierrard, Olivier; Sneessens, Henri. Structural changes in the labor market and the rise of early retirement in France and Germany. In: German Economic Review, Vol. 20, no. 4, p. e38-e69 (2019). doi:10.1111/geer.12150.

6. de la Croix, David; Doepke, Mathias; Mokyr, Joel. Clans, Guilds, and Markets: Apprenticeship Institutions and Growth in the Preindustrial Economy. In: The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 133, no. 1, p. 1-70 (2018). doi:10.1093/qje/qjx026.

7. de la Croix, David; Perrin, Faustine. How Far Can Economic Incentives Explain the French Fertility and Education Transition?. In: European Economic Review, Vol. 108, p. 221-245 (September 2018).

8. Baudin, Thomas; de la Croix, David; Gobbi, Paula Eugenia. Endogenous Childlessness and Stages of Development. In: Journal of the European Economic Association, , p. 1-83. (Accepté/Sous presse).

9. De la Croix, David; Delavallade, Clara. Religion, Fertility, and Growth in Southeast Asia. In: International Economic Review, Vol. 59, no. 2, p. 907-946 (2018). doi:10.1111/iere.12291.

10. Baudin, Thomas; Hiller, Victor. On the dynamics of gender differences in preferences. In: Oxford Economic Papers, , p. 1-25 (2018). doi:10.1093/oep/gpy038 (Accepté/Sous presse).

11. de la Croix, David; Gobbi, Paula Eugenia. Population Density, Fertility, and Demographic Convergence in Developing Countries. In: Journal of Development Economics, Vol. 127, p. 13-24 (July 2017).

12. d'Albis, Hippolyte; Gobbi, Paula Eugenia; Greulich, Angela. Having a Second Child and Access to Childcare:Evidence from European Countries. In: Journal of Demographic Economics, Vol. 83, no. 2, p. 177-210 (2017). doi:10.1017/dem.2017.2.

13. Marchiori, Luca; Pierrard, Olivier; Sneessens, Henri. The EU-US Unemployment Puzzle Revisited : Institutions, Demography, and Capital Flows. In: Journal of Demographic Economics, Vol. 83, no.3, p. 259-305 (2017). doi:10.1017/dem.2017.13.

14. Parienté, William. Urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Challenge of Access to Basic Services. In: Journal of Demographic Economics, Vol. 83, no.1, p. 31-39 (February 2017). doi:10.1017/dem.2017.3.

15. Bezin, Emeline. Cultural dynamics, social mobility and urban segregation. In: Journal of Urban Economics, Vol. 99, p. 173-187 (May 2017). doi:10.1016/j.jue.2017.02.004.

16. Stelter, Robert. Over-aging — Are present-day human populations too old?. In: Mathematical Social Sciences, Vol. 82, p. 116-143 (July 2016). doi:10.1016/j.mathsocsci.2016.05.004.

17. Bezin, Emeline. A cultural model of private provision and the environment. In: Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Vol. 71, p. 109-124 (2015). doi:10.1016/j.jeem.2015.02.001.

18. de la Croix, David; Iyigun, Murat. Editorial introduction. In: Journal of Demographic Economics, Vol. 81, no.1, p. 1-2 (March 2015). doi:10.1017/dem.2014.13.

19. d'Albis, Hippolyte; Moosa, Dalal. Generational Economics and the National Transfer Accounts. In: Journal of Demographic Economics, Vol. 81, no.4, p. 409-441 (December 2015). doi:10.1017/dem.2015.14.

Book Chapters

1. Baudin, Thomas. Childlessness and Economic Development: A Survey. In: Human Capital and Economic Growth: The Impact of Health, Education and Demographic Change , Palgrave MacMillan: London, 2019, p. 55-90. 978-3-030-21599-6. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-21599-6_3.

2. Mariani, Fabio; Pérez - Barahona, Agustín; Raffin, Natacha. Population and the Environment: The Role of Fertility, Education and Life Expectancy. In: Human Capital and Economic Growth: The Impact of Health, Education and Demographic Change , Palgrave MacMillan: London, 2019, p. 295-322. 978-3-030-21598-9. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-21599-6_9.

3. de la Croix, David. Did Longer Lives Buy Economic Growth? From Malthus to Lucas and Ben-Porath. In: Demographic Change and Long-Run Development , MIT Press: Cambridge, 2017, p. 69-90. 9780262036627.

4. de la Croix, David. The relevance of quantitative economic theory for historical demography. In: The Future of Historical Demography : Upside down and inside out , Acco Uitgeverij: Leuven, 2016, p. 91-95. 9789462927223.

5. de la Croix, David. Economic Growth. In: International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavorial Sciences , Elservier, 2015, p. 38-44. 9780080970868. doi:10.1016/B978-0-08-097086-8.71057-9.

Working Papers

1. Baudin, Thomas; de la Croix, David; Gobbi, Paula Eugenia. Childlessness and Economic Development: A Survey (xxx), 2019. 32 p.

2. David de la Croix; Mariani, Fabio; Marion Mercier. Driven by Institutions, Shaped by Culture: Human Capital and the Secularization of Marriage in Italy (xxx), 2019. 36 p.


1. Cordisco, Isabella; Meda, Stefania G.; Ortensi, Livia; Salomone, Sara. Famiglia in Migrazione. Rubettino Editore: Soveria Manelli, 2015. 9788849843682. 140 pages.