Diverging pathways? Sibling differences in marriage timing in a commercialized rural region of the Netherlands, 1860-1940
Bern : Peter Lang
Population, famille et société ; 22
InBoudjaaba, Fabrice; Dousset, Christine; Mouysset, Sylvie (ed.), Frères et sœurs du Moyen Âge à nos jours, pp. 189-206
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Boudjaaba, Fabrice; Dousset, Christine; Mouysset, Sylvie (ed.), Frères et sœurs du Moyen Âge à nos jours
SubjectEurope and its Worlds after 1800; Self, Script and Society
In general, historical demographic studies and research on stratification and social mobility tend to ignore intra-family differences. In this study, we postulate that marriage timing and marriage chances can serve as proxy for life chances in general, and that these are subject to an unequal distribution of resources within families. We have discovered that diversity in marriage/life chances can be explained by intra-family differences in gender and birth position, by inter-family differences in family size, as well as by interactions between these two. Firstly, we have found evidence that the advantage of eldest children is by and large a myth. Eldest boys had no real advantage over boys in the middle, whereas girls in the middle were clearly privileged over eldest girls. Secondly, we have found partial proof for the resource dilution hypothesis, in the sense that a larger number of girls (not boys) retarded marriage timing. Interestingly, the negative effect on marriage of being an only or eldest girl was attenuated when she had many brothers. Migration did not relieve children from the adverse effects of sibling position, but in fact worsened them. Probably migration was selective: children in an unfavourable position had to leave home – possibly to bring in money – which decreased their marriage chances even further.
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