Effects of Individual Mortality Experience on Out-of-Wedlock Fertility in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Krummhörn, Germany
SourceHuman Nature, (2020)
16 juni 2020
Article / Letter to editor
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Economische, Sociale en Demografische Geschiedenis
SubjectEurope in a Changing World; Radboud Group for Historical Demography and Family History
Life history theory predicts that exposure to high mortality in early childhood leads to faster and riskier reproductive strategies. Individuals who grew up in a high mortality regime will not overly wait until they find a suitable partner and form a stable union because premature death would prevent them from reproducing. Cox proportional hazard models were used to determine whether women who experienced sibling death during early childhood (0–5 years) reproduced earlier and were at an increased risk of giving birth to an illegitimate child, with illegitimacy serving as a proxy for risky sexual behavior. Furthermore, we investigate whether giving birth out of wedlock is influenced by individual mortality experience or by more promiscuous sexual behavior that is clustered in certain families. Models are fitted on pedigree data from the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Krummhörn population in Germany. The results show a relationship between sibling death in early childhood and the risk of reproducing out of wedlock, and reproductive timing. The risk of giving birth out of wedlock is linked to individual mortality experience rather than to family-level effects. In contrast, adjustments in connubial reproductive timing are influenced more by family-level effects than by individual mortality experience.
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