Climate, Marriage and Fertility in the Netherlands, 1865-1937

Julia Jennings, University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY)

Marriage patterns in pre-industrial Northwest Europe are commonly thought to be driven by social and economic factors, such as neo-local residence norms and the need to save before marriage. Recent studies have emphasized local variation over broad regional similarity in marriage patterns. Unaddressed in this literature is the potential role of environmental factors such as a climate variability, which can place significant constraints on demographic behavior in low-resource settings. Using longitudinal individual-level demographic data from the Historical Sample of the Netherlands (HSN) and climate and economic data from 1865-1937, we examine the effects of climate variability on marriage. Initial findings of event history models of marriage timing contradict expectations that positive climate conditions are associated with increased marriage. We find that negative climate conditions increase marriage, but that these effects are explained by rye prices. Additional analyses will extend this work to examine climatic influences on marital fertility.

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Presented in Session 214: Fertility and Family Formation in Europe, 1750 to the Present