The aim of this paper is to present a methodological and theoretical framework, as well as to show some preliminary results of a case study on the marriage market in a society where the endowment was based on the system of impartible inheritance. More specifically, we show the case of ... (Show more)
The aim of this paper is to present a methodological and theoretical framework, as well as to show some preliminary results of a case study on the marriage market in a society where the endowment was based on the system of impartible inheritance. More specifically, we show the case of a rural community in northeastern Catalonia, a western Mediterranean European region, during the second half of the 18th century, that is, in the late <>.
Thus, we argue that in rural societies with impartible inheritance systems, dowries reveal the economic status of families and therefore its distribution evidences the inequality. In this way, the core idea of this argument is, on the one hand, the fact that in rural societies land availability was especially determinant for the reproduction and survival of family units. On the other hand, focussing the patrimonial transmission in few inheritors (usually the eldest son) led families to compete in order to attract the heir of a patrimony which could enable them to improve, or at least maintain, their socioeconomic status. This competition was usually materialized through the dowries, which were mostly monetary, something important regarding its manageable quantification.
In this manner, we have made use of some typical econometric exercises among the academic literature, such as Gini Index, Inequality Extraction Ratio or fraction division, to estimate inequality in a data set of dowries from the second half of the 18th century. Furthermore, due to the informative richness of marriage contracts, which almost always indicated the profession of every male individual, we also have analysed inequality within and between different social groups, as well as endogamy and social mobility (horizontal, upward or downward).
Finally, after applying the above-mentioned exercises, our results suggest that inequality increased during the last decades of the covered period, which is consistent with the socioeconomic context of Catalonia: huge demographic pressure, inflation (primarily on assets which were intensive in land factor) and proletarianization, the latter undoubtedly emphasized by the Catalan impartible inheritance system. (Show less)