This paper analyzes short-run fluctuations in national time series of vital events for France in the period 1740 to 1909. Fertility, mortality, and nuptiality form a simultaneous system which interacts with economic and meteorological conditions. In the short run, the demographic variables are endogenous. Economic and meteorological conditions are exogenous. Our indicator of economic conditions is the price of wheat, the principal food crop. Biometric models of fertility and empirical research on the biologically-based interrelations of fertility and mortality provide insight into the expected timing of events. We combine these results with empirical research on the effects of nutrition on fertility and mortality, research in medical biometeorology, and French historical demograhic and economic research to formulate our model. The resultant distributed lag system is estimated. We find that the economic/nutritional effects are more likely to be statistically significant in predicting the time path of vital events than are the demographic variables or the effects of meteorological conditions.

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