Demographic theory states that fertility was high for all social classes before the demographic transition. During the transition, a significant distance was noticed between upper/middle and lower strata, since the firsts were able to control their behavior faster and more efficiently. This cleavage was even more intense between the upper ... (Show more)
Demographic theory states that fertility was high for all social classes before the demographic transition. During the transition, a significant distance was noticed between upper/middle and lower strata, since the firsts were able to control their behavior faster and more efficiently. This cleavage was even more intense between the upper urban and the lower rural social groups. Data has until now confirmed this trend only for Western Europe (see Knodel 1974 for Germany), as for the Eastern side of the continent the studies are still awaited. The development of the new digital tools - extended population databases – will certainly fill the gap in the next few years.
The availability of new extensive datasets allows us to test the theory of upper strata as vanguard of new demographic trends. The first step this paper takes is to analyze the behavior of the rural elite (as teachers, priests, notaries, civil clerks, and other officials) based on the Historical Population Database of Transylvania. The HPDT – a longitudinal database – was created in order to enable research on the population of Transylvania in the 19th and 20th centuries. The main sources of the HPDT are parish registers kept by churches, which cover the period between 1850 and 1914-20. These sources recorded the most important events in an individual life course from a demographic perspective. By providing individual-level data, the database allows for statistical analyses with advanced methods on questions that have received very little investigation from a historical perspective.
Our purpose is to extract the sample of individuals who can be included in the category of the rural elite, alongside several key variables at individual level: firstly occupation, as well as socioeconomic status, education and denomination can be also taken into consideration. Moreover, based on life course methodology and family reconstitution, the paper traces their demographic behaviour, following the main three components (nuptiality, fertility and mortality). Our preliminary findings revealed, for instance, that age of first marriage is slightly higher for the men who have completed a higher form of education, as their profession indicates. Our research thus brings into question the fertility level of these upper rural groups, their marital strategies, their networks and connections (previous studies revealed that the most influential individuals from community are more likely to act as godparents or guardians), trends in infant mortality and general mortality, all compared to general trend on Transylvania (Bolovan, 2000) and the broader context of the East-European pattern (Durães et al., 2009).
Bolovan Ioan (2000). Transilvania între Revolu?ia de la 1848 ?i Unirea din 1918. Contribu?ii demografice, , Cluj-Napoca: Centrul de Studii Transilvane.
Durães, Margarida, Antoinette Fauve-Chamoux, Lorenc Ferrer Jan Kok (eds).(2009). The Transmission of Well-being: Gendered Marriage Strategies and Inheritance Systems in Europe (17th-20th Century), Bern: Peter Lang.
Knodel, John (1974). The Decline of Fertility in Germany 1871–1939. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Show less)