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The impact of parental death on the timing of first marriage: Evolutionary versus social explanations (The Netherlands, 1850–1940)

Rosenbaum-Feldbrugge, Matthias and Debiasi, Enrico LU (2019) In Demographic Research 40. p.799-834
Abstract
Background: This article examines the impact of parental death in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood on male and female age at marriage in the Netherlands in the period 1850–1940. It follows an interdisciplinary approach as it considers explanations based on social and demographic history and evolutionary biology.

Objective: We study the classical historical framework in more detail by controlling for the age at parental death. Moreover, we study if evolutionary or social-demographic explanations are better able to predict the impact of parental death on marriage behavior in a historical population.

Methods: We apply event-history analysis to the Historical Sample of the Netherlands, which includes life courses of more... (More)
Background: This article examines the impact of parental death in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood on male and female age at marriage in the Netherlands in the period 1850–1940. It follows an interdisciplinary approach as it considers explanations based on social and demographic history and evolutionary biology.

Objective: We study the classical historical framework in more detail by controlling for the age at parental death. Moreover, we study if evolutionary or social-demographic explanations are better able to predict the impact of parental death on marriage behavior in a historical population.

Methods: We apply event-history analysis to the Historical Sample of the Netherlands, which includes life courses of more than 24,000 individuals in marital age.

Results: Losing a parent in early childhood delays transition to marriage for sons and has no significant effect on daughters. Parental death in adulthood, however, accelerates entry into marriage for children of farmers.

Conclusions: Early parental death hindered a smooth transition to marriage but the inheritance of land in adulthood created marriage opportunities both for men and women. The results suggest that farming families employed fast marriage of adult children to restore the gender balance on the farm.

Contribution: Marriage in the period 1850–1940 was strongly determined by regional, cultural, religious, and financial constraints. The proposed evolutionary explanations, and the one based on life history theory in particular, are therefore not able to predict the relationship between parental death and marriage behavior. Accordingly, we advise not to use the age at marriage as a proxy for reproductive and risky sexual behavior.
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Demographic Research
volume
40
pages
799 - 834
publisher
Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
external identifiers
  • scopus:85066143245
ISSN
1435-9871
DOI
10.4054/DemRes.2019.40.28
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
dfa7f419-af68-4fe1-91e5-5da11a1a33e8
date added to LUP
2019-04-23 11:46:19
date last changed
2019-09-01 06:21:29
@article{dfa7f419-af68-4fe1-91e5-5da11a1a33e8,
  abstract     = {Background: This article examines the impact of parental death in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood on male and female age at marriage in the Netherlands in the period 1850–1940. It follows an interdisciplinary approach as it considers explanations based on social and demographic history and evolutionary biology.<br/><br/>Objective: We study the classical historical framework in more detail by controlling for the age at parental death. Moreover, we study if evolutionary or social-demographic explanations are better able to predict the impact of parental death on marriage behavior in a historical population.<br/><br/>Methods: We apply event-history analysis to the Historical Sample of the Netherlands, which includes life courses of more than 24,000 individuals in marital age.<br/><br/>Results: Losing a parent in early childhood delays transition to marriage for sons and has no significant effect on daughters. Parental death in adulthood, however, accelerates entry into marriage for children of farmers.<br/><br/>Conclusions: Early parental death hindered a smooth transition to marriage but the inheritance of land in adulthood created marriage opportunities both for men and women. The results suggest that farming families employed fast marriage of adult children to restore the gender balance on the farm.<br/><br/>Contribution: Marriage in the period 1850–1940 was strongly determined by regional, cultural, religious, and financial constraints. The proposed evolutionary explanations, and the one based on life history theory in particular, are therefore not able to predict the relationship between parental death and marriage behavior. Accordingly, we advise not to use the age at marriage as a proxy for reproductive and risky sexual behavior.<br/>},
  articleno    = {28},
  author       = {Rosenbaum-Feldbrugge, Matthias and Debiasi, Enrico},
  issn         = {1435-9871},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {04},
  pages        = {799--834},
  publisher    = {Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research},
  series       = {Demographic Research},
  title        = {The impact of parental death on the timing of first marriage: Evolutionary versus social explanations (The Netherlands, 1850–1940)},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.4054/DemRes.2019.40.28},
  volume       = {40},
  year         = {2019},
}