Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-99c86f546-vl2kb Total loading time: 0.257 Render date: 2021-12-07T10:11:27.757Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

6 - Demography and the economy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 January 2016

E. A. Wrigley
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
Get access

Summary

The demographic characteristics of a society may have an important bearing on its prevailing standard of living and economic growth prospects. This was an issue explored by Hajnal in his remarkable essay on marriage in western and eastern Europe, published in 1965. He was intent on exploring the nature and significance of the west European marriage system. Table 6.1 reproduces the table that appeared on the first page of his essay.

The differences between the two marriage systems are striking. They are especially pronounced in the case of women. In the western pattern, approaching half of the women in the age group 25–29 are unmarried, and this remains true of roughly a sixth of women even in the 45–49 age group. In eastern Europe in both these age groups the proportion of women who had never married was negligible. Hajnal provided evidence that what was true of eastern Europe was true of almost all societies elsewhere in the world for which he had reliable data. The difference in proportions ever married in the two systems clearly implies wide differences in the average age at first marriage. Hajnal noted, for example, that in Serbia, in 1896–1905, the decade centred on the year for which Table 6.1 shows percentages single, the mean age at first marriage for women was 19.7 years. In the west European marriage system the average female age at first marriage, though it varied considerably, was three to eight years later in life.

Hajnal noted that: ‘There was a widespread conviction among eighteenth-century authors that European conditions were fundamentally different not only in marriage, birth and death rates, but above all in standards of living, from those obtaining elsewhere in the world.’ He was, however, very conscious of the lack of empirical evidence to enable the issue to be explored effectively, not least because reliable demographic evidence for earlier centuries was so slender. Since his essay was published much new research on the west European marriage system has been carried out. It has become clear that the system had existed for centuries in some countries rather than being of recent origin, as Hajnal supposed. Even though exponential growth was physically impossible in organic economies, the prevailing standard of living was not foredoomed to be depressed close to bare subsistence for the mass of the population in societies in which the west European marriage system had become established.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Path to Sustained Growth
England's Transition from an Organic Economy to an Industrial Revolution
, pp. 101 - 131
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2016

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Send book to Kindle

To send this book to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

  • Demography and the economy
  • E. A. Wrigley, University of Cambridge
  • Book: The Path to Sustained Growth
  • Online publication: 05 January 2016
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781316488256.007
Available formats
×

Send book to Dropbox

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

  • Demography and the economy
  • E. A. Wrigley, University of Cambridge
  • Book: The Path to Sustained Growth
  • Online publication: 05 January 2016
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781316488256.007
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Demography and the economy
  • E. A. Wrigley, University of Cambridge
  • Book: The Path to Sustained Growth
  • Online publication: 05 January 2016
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781316488256.007
Available formats
×