The classic theory used to explain the demographic transition assumes that mortality is the key explanatory variable influencing the decline in fertility. However, the empirical results obtained in what is known as the Princeton European Fertility Project have led many specialists to question this assumption. Using both national and provincial aggregated data for 25 countries over a long time span, the analysis reported in this paper found that mortality does indeed play a fundamental role in accounting for the main demographic changes that occurred both before and during the transitional period. Others' research based on individual data has shown clearly that the number of surviving children was indeed an important factor for reproductive decisions. My analysis, using aggregated data, reached largely similar conclusions regarding the role of mortality in changing reproductive trends, via its impact on nuptiality and marital fertility at different stages of the demographic transition.
demographic transition; fertility; mortality; nuptiality; natural fertility; historical demography; european fertility project; developed countries ; reproductive change; marital fertility; determinants; migration; decline