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According to the traditional theory of the demographic transition, the drop in mortality was the main mechanism which accounted for the subsequent decline in fertility. This basic idea was questioned by the results of the well-known Princeton European Fertility Project, but even now there is relatively little empirical research providing solid evidence that can shed light on the determinants of fertility in modern times. We examine the long-term relationship between marital fertility, mortality and gross domestic product per capita (GDPpc) using panel cointegration techniques for a group of 15 developed countries from the 19th century until the present day. The statistical models used show that mortality plays a major role in fertility reductions.