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From hardship to benefit: A critical review of the nuclear hardship theory in relation to the emergence of the European Marriage Pattern


  • Annemarie Bouman

    () (Utrecht University)

  • Jaco Zuijderduijn
  • Tine De Moor


In this paper we address several issues, all with the underlying intention of refining and reorienting the nuclear-hardship-debate. There is a need for such reorientation of the debate as several indicators show that the long-term outcome of this process towards a society built upon nuclear households has not lead to more hardship, quite the contrary. Nor would it be fair to claim that this outcome has to be thanked entirely to top-down provisions, and then in particular via charity. In this article we stress the institutional diversity of the solutions for hardship, and we hereby focus on one particular group in society, namely the elderly. We will demonstrate that elderly had more “agency” than is usually expected and that a combination of institutional arrangements besides the top-down provisions in which the elderly participated actively offered more resilience in society to deal with the so-called “hardship”.

Suggested Citation

  • Annemarie Bouman & Jaco Zuijderduijn & Tine De Moor, 2012. "From hardship to benefit: A critical review of the nuclear hardship theory in relation to the emergence of the European Marriage Pattern," Working Papers 0028, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucg:wpaper:0028

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Frankema, Ewout, 2009. "The Expansion of Mass Education in Twentieth Century Latin America: A Global Comparative Perspective," Revista de Historia Económica, Cambridge University Press, vol. 27(03), pages 359-396, January.
    2. Ewout Frankema, 2010. "The colonial roots of land inequality: geography, factor endowments, or institutions?," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 63(2), pages 418-451, May.
    3. Kevin H. O'Rourke & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2001. "Globalization and History: The Evolution of a Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Economy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262650592, January.
    4. Laura Jaramillo & Cemile Sancak, 2007. "Growth in the Dominican Republic and Haiti; Why has the Grass Been Greener on One Side of Hispaniola?," IMF Working Papers 07/63, International Monetary Fund.
    5. Stanley L. Engerman & Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 2005. "Colonialism, Inequality, and Long-Run Paths of Development," NBER Working Papers 11057, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Silvana Maubrigades, 2015. "Connections between women`s age at marriage and social and economic development," Documentos de trabajo 39, Programa de Historia Económica, FCS, Udelar.
    2. Zuijderduijn, Jaco, 2016. "The Ages of Women and Men : Life Cycles, Family and Investment in the Fifteenth-Century Low Countries," Lund Papers in Economic History 150, Lund University, Department of Economic History.

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    European Marriage Pattern; agency; institutions; nuclear household;

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