Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : Abstract Using genealogical data of British aristocrats, we show that inheritances can affect childlessness. We study settlements, a contract restricting heirs’ powers and settling bequests for yet-to-be-born generations. Settlements reduced childlessness to the “natural” rate, ensuring aristocratic dynasties’ survival. Our estimation exploits that settlements were signed at the heir’s wedding if the family head lived until this date. Whether the heir was born after a girl provides as-good-as-random assignment into settlements. Next, we develop a theory that reproduces our findings, shows that exponential discounting cannot rationalize inheritance systems restricting heirs, and that inheritance systems can emerge endogenously when fertility concerns exist.