An agro-town bias? Re-examining the micro-demographic model for Southern Italy in the eighteenth century

Daniel Curtis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Over the past 25 years, there has been an orthodox view established that 18thcentury Southern Italy had a distinctive micro-demographic model based around a number of facets, 3 key ones being a proliferation of neo-local small nuclear households, an exceptionally low average age of first marriage for women (with low levels of life-time singles), and a low incidence of household service. This view, however, has been forged on the back of geographical biases in data selection- particularly in favor of Apulia, a region with a high incidence of large latifundist estates and agro-towns. What this article shows using a less geographically biased database compiled from the Catasto Onciario and State of Souls register is that while nuclear households and low ages of women's marriage may have been characteristic of the agro-town areas of the Kingdom, this did not apply for everywhere in the South. In fact, some regions displayed complex household levels comparable to parts of Eastern Europe and some regions had average ages of marriage for women that would not look out of place in parts of Northwest Europe. An explanation for such regional divergences has been sought in the tenurial complexity and diversity seen in the South. The view that the South had a low incidence of service, however, does indeed still hold, with only minor variations across regions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)685-713
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Social History
Volume48
Issue number3
Early online date26 Feb 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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