Marriage Choices and Social Homogamy through 19th and 20th Centuries in Milan

Giulia Corti , University of Bologna

Marriage patterns are a key element in the social reproduction of inequalities because, through marriage, socio-economic resources are distributed among groups and households. Furthermore, the measure by which individuals from different groups marry each other can be considered as an indicator of the grade of openness of a society. From a historical perspective, modernization theory has traditionally predicted a decrease in marital homogamy by social origin. Long-term trends in social homogamy have been investigated in the social history field, testing different aspects of the modernization theory, and empirical evidence is quite diverse across contexts and periods. Using new couple-level data (N= 3.924) for the Italian city of Milan on newlyweds between the end of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, patterns of social homogamy are analyzed through the means of log-linear analysis. Net of changing marginal distributions across social classes (HISCLASS), models of couple formation remain substantively the same. Men appear more immobile than women, who have a higher tendency towards upward marital mobility. With regards to the comparison among social classes, boundaries between the top and bottom classes, and the barriers between manual and non-manual workers remained strong across time. These results, as it was previously found in other contexts, do not seem to corroborate the modernization theory.

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 Presented in Session 23. Historical Demography