Age Differences between Spouses in the Past: Determinants, Patterns, and Geographical Differences

Francesco Scalone, Università di Bologna
Martin Dribe, Lund University
Edoardo Redivo, University of Bologna

This paper examines age differences between spouses in the eighteenth century and early twentieth century, exploring how they were influenced by economic and demographic factors during the transition from traditional and rural to modern industrial and urban societies. The study focuses on six countries, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, England, the US, and Canada, and analyzes the role of sex ratios at the parish and municipality levels in determining age differences between spouses. The research aims to shed light on family formation during a time of significant social and economic change. Economic factors such as income and social status played a crucial role in determining the age differences between spouses. Demographic factors, such as sex ratios at the parish and municipality levels, also significantly affected age differences between spouses. With fewer potential partners available for marriage, individuals were more likely to marry someone older or younger than themselves. The rise of industrialization and urbanization led to young men migrating to cities for work, resulting in a shortage of men in rural areas and women being forced to marry older men. The study will use individual microdata from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) census data to investigate age differences between spouses in the six countries. The research will assess the association of age differences between spouses with sex ratios, female work participation, employment rates, and proportion of rural workers at the parishes or municipalities level while controlling for individual characteristics such as socioeconomic status, migrant status, and birthplace. In summary, this study will provide insights into the evolution of age differences between spouses and how demographic and economic factors affected marital patterns in different regions.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 71. Marriage, Fertility and Divorce during the First and Second Demographic Transition; Insights from Europe