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Rethinking East-Central Europe: family systems and co-residence in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Volume 1: Contexts and analyses – Volume 2: Data quality assessments, documentation, and bibliography


Mikołaj Szołtysek

This book reconstructs fundamental aspects of family organization across historical Poland-Lithuania, one of the largest political entities in early modern Europe. Using a plethora of quantitative measurements and demographic microsimulation, the author captures and elucidates the complex patterns of leaving home and life-cycle service, marriage and household formation, along with domestic group structures and living arrangements among different subpopulations of Poland-Lithuania, highlighting a variety of ways in which these patterns were nested in their respective local and regional contexts. By showing that at the end of the 18 th century at least three distinct family systems existed in the Polish-Lithuanian territories, Szołtysek challenges a number of orthodoxies in the ‘master narratives’ on the European geography of family forms of F. Le Play, J. Hajnal, P. Laslett, and their followers. Volume two of the book contains an extensive bibliography along with a thorough archival documentation of the census-like microdata used in the book, and provides detailed information on their quality and further technicalities pertaining to data analysis.
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5. Computer microsimulation and the study of historical living arrangements


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5.  Computer microsimulation and the study of historical living arrangements

In addition to synthetic cohorts, the use of which has a long tradition in historical studies of the family, the second cornerstone of this book’s methodology is a more recent innovation. While in the last 30 years or so it has been increasingly used in Western historical studies of social structure and family (Wachter et al. 1978; Ruggles 1987; Hammel 1990b; Devolder 2002), in the study of populations from Central and Eastern Europe it has not yet been employed. The innovation which is being referred to is computer microsimulation of kin sets.

For many years, family demographers and family historians have been aware of the need to use indirect methods to evaluate certain characteristics of families that cannot be accessed using most types of available data. For example, the data on household composition and living arrangements that could be derived from historical listings used in this study (see Ch. 2) describe fairly well and with a great deal of accuracy the actual residential circumstances of the family, as well as the living arrangements of various categories of individuals. However, one of the limitations of these data (on their other drawbacks, see Appendix 1, vol. 2) is that they do not provide a direct correspondence between the observable residential configurations and their nonobservable determinants (De Vos and Palloni 1989, 175). This point is a critical one, as at least since the early 1970s...

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