Marriage Strategies as a Means to Better Well-Being: Bohemia in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century

Vera Slovakova, Charles University

In the second half of the nineteenth century, choosing a wife or husband was one of the most important decisions which a person made. Not only did marriage start a new phase of the life cycle, it could also establish a different social status of the newly formed family and thus influence the well-being of all the family members. When selecting a partner there were two important factors – social background and social status at the time of the wedding. In this paper, I test the hypothesis that social status at the time of the wedding was more important to social mobility than family background. The research is based on demographic data about families of Bohemian senior public servants and their brothers, who worked in various areas. The siblings came from the same social background, but their social position changed during their lives. For senior public servants, one of the purposes of marriage was to accelerate their career, which is why they usually chose wives from more affluent or influential families. In contrast, their brothers often retained social status of their fathers, which might have resulted in choosing a wife of a similar or even lower social position. In order to classify and compare the socio-economic status of the persons, the HISCO and HISCLASS schemes are used. The connection between social position and well-being is addressed as well.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 173. Cultural Factors in Demographic Behaviour