Rural populations are said to have lowered their fertility following the urban elite model. This article is based on regional studies and provides an overview of the literature. Historical studies of nineteenth-century French demographic behaviour show that rural couples already limited their fertility at a very early stage. The main differences were to be observed between social categories according to the size of their agricultural enterprises. Nonetheless, these variables do not fully explain the behaviours. The diversity in rural behaviours can also be linked to instruction, religion and landownership.