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Between Constraints and Coercion. Marriage and Social Reproduction in Northern and central Italy, 18th-19th Centuries


  • Renzo Derosas

    () (Department of Economics, University Of Venice C� Foscari)

  • Marco Breschi

    (University of Sassari)

  • Alessio Fornasin

    (University of udine)

  • Matteo Manfredini

    (University of Parma)

  • Cristina Munno

    (University of Venice C� Foscari)


In this paper we review the main theories of household and marriage systems, highlighting their inability to account for the astonishing variety of family and marriage patterns that characterized modern Italy. We propose a new interpretative framework, where social reproduction is given pride of place as the main factor shaping marital behavior and household formation in the past. We test our theory analyzing five populations in northern and central Italy, characterized by different ecological, economic, and social conditions. We use an event history analysis approach to model the timing of marriage in the populations under study. The results confirm that coercion mattered much more than Malthusian economic constraints. We conclude suggesting a more general application of our approach to the study of marital behavior, family formation, and residential patterns in the past.

Suggested Citation

  • Renzo Derosas & Marco Breschi & Alessio Fornasin & Matteo Manfredini & Cristina Munno, 2012. "Between Constraints and Coercion. Marriage and Social Reproduction in Northern and central Italy, 18th-19th Centuries," Working Papers 2012_02, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
  • Handle: RePEc:ven:wpaper:2012_02

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    File Function: First version, 2012
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Modin, Bitte, 2003. "Born out of wedlock and never married--it breaks a man's heart," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 487-501, August.
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    More about this item


    marriage; social reproduction; household and marriage systems; Italy;

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General

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