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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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8. When to marry? Nuptiality and entry into marriage


← 402 | 403 →

8.  When to marry? Nuptiality and entry into marriage

‘[…] Things cannot be the same in a society where a bride is usually a girl of 16, and one in which she is typically a woman of 24’ (Hajnal 1965, 142)

‘Nie kajsia rana ustauszy, za maładu ażaniuszysia’ (You will not regret early rising and youthful marriage) (Belarussian proverb, 1802)

8.1  The importance of marriage

Demographers have been interested in marriage primarily because it exposes people to the risk of childbearing (McDonald 1981; Smith 1983). The significance of marriage in explaining fertility was acknowledged early on by Davis and Blake, who included a discussion of the factors surrounding marriage in their seminal essay on social structure and fertility (1956). The centrality of nuptiality trends and differentials to the study of fertility was later demonstrated by Coale and associates, who showed that fertility schedules can depend on age patterns of marriage; that is, on the age distribution of first marriage and the proportion of a population who ever marry (Coale 1971a; Coale and McNeill 1972; Trussel et al. 1981; recently Rosero-Bixby 1996). Farther along the demographic interests, even the most formal of proximate determinants models consider the impact of marriage timing (Bongaarts 1976; 1978)1. ← 403 | 404 →

Marriage, however, means more than just a potential exposure to reproduction, as it is unquestionably also the most important of all life-cycle events (Hareven and Masoka 1988; also MacDonald...

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