We built an agent-based simulation, incorporating geographic and demographic data from nineteenth-century France, to study the role of social interactions in fertility decisions. The simulation made experimentation possible in a context where other empirical strategies were precluded by a lack of data. We evaluated how different decision rules, with and without interdependent decision-making, caused variations in population growth and fertility levels. The analyses show that incorporating social influence into the model allows empirically observed behaviour to be mimicked, especially at a national level. These findings shed light on individual-level mechanisms through which the French demographic transition may have developed.
Published in Volume 67, Issue 2, pages 135-155