IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Quantifying patriarchy: an explorative comparison of two joint family societies


  • Siegfried Gruber

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Mikołaj Szołtysek

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)


The notion of ‘patriarchy’ has pervaded the scholarly descriptions of peasant families in historical Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. The term has often included many different elements, such as the dominance of patrilineal descent, patrilocal or patrivirilocal residence after marriage, power relations that favour the domination of men over women and of the older generation over the younger generation, customary laws that sanctioned these patterns, the absence of an interfering state that could mitigate their influence, and an inert traditional society that emanated from these conditions. Combinations of these elements have been used to explain the peculiarity of the residence patterns in the East and South-East of Europe relative to the West, but in a manner that generally does not allow researchers to measure comparatively the ‘intensity’ of patriarchy across time and space. In this paper, we propose a handy tool for comparative studies of joint families, and argue that ‘patriarchy’ can be meaningfully measured in quantitative terms. We also suggest approaches for measuring patriarchy, and provide a list of numerical variables easily derived from census microdata that can be used for measurement purposes. To illustrate how these comparative studies can be conducted, we use census and census-like materials for two historical joint family societies from the European East (Poland-Lithuania and Albania). For both datasets, we compute a list of well-specified variables and investigate how they correlate with each other. Finally, based on these variables, an index of patriarchy is proposed, allowing us to identify regions with different degrees of patriarchy within one country.

Suggested Citation

  • Siegfried Gruber & Mikołaj Szołtysek, 2012. "Quantifying patriarchy: an explorative comparison of two joint family societies," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2012-017, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2012-017

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Miko³aj Szo³tysek & Barbara Zuber-Goldstein, 2009. "Historical family systems and the great european divide: The invention of the slavic east," Demográfia English Edition, Hungarian Demographic Research Institute, vol. 52(5), pages 5-47.
    2. Mikołaj Szołtysek & Barbara Zuber Goldstein, 2009. "Historical family systems and the great European divide: the invention of the Slavic East," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2009-041, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2012-017. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Peter Wilhelm). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.