Marriage timing over the generations

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Strong relationships have been hypothesized between the timing of marriage and the familial environment of the couple. Sociologists have identified various mechanisms via which the age at marriage in the parental generation might be related to the age at marriage of the children. In our paper we study this relationship for historical populations. We use a dataset consisting of several hundreds of thousands of marriages contracted in three of the 11 Dutch provinces between 1812 and 1922. We identified the generational links between the brides, grooms, their parents, and grandparents. We studied (a) whether there is a relationship between ages at marriage of (grandfathers) fathers and sons, and ages at marriage of (grandmothers) mothers and daughters and (b) whether this relationship might be explained by social class. We find evidence for a clear effect of the family on age at marriage and substantial intergenerational transmission. The impact that the family of origin has on age at entry into marriage can partly be attributed to social class. We also observed positive effects of grandparents’ age at marriage on their offspring’s age at marriage. Keywords Age at marriage . Intergenerational transmission . Familial effects . Social class . Netherlands . Multilevel models
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-22
JournalHuman Nature: an interdisciplinary biosocial perspective
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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