Examination of the reproductive histories of a sample of German married couples during the 18th and 19thcenturies provides insights into behavioral changes involveo in the shift from natural fertility to deliberate marital fertility control. A simple accounting scheme is used to assess the relative contributions of starting, spacing, and stopping to changes in family size during the initial phases of the fertility transition. The results suggest that in rural Germany, attempts to terminate childbearing prior to the end of the reproductive span were far more important in initiating the onset of fertility transition than efforts to deliberately prolong intervals between births or changes in the timing of the start of childbearing.

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