Environmental factors such as climate variability can place significant constraints on demographic behavior in a range of settings. However, few studies investigate the relationships between demography and climate in historical contexts. Using longitudinal individual-level demographic data from the Historical Sample of the Netherlands (HSN) and climate and economic data from 1871 to 1937, we examine the effects of climate variability on marriage. This analysis reveals that marriage increases with negative environmental conditions such as cold temperatures, riverine flooding, and high rye prices. These findings are not consistent with a Malthusian narrative of marriage behavior or with the expectation that environmental constraints were stronger in the historical past.
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Historical Sample of the Netherlands (HSN) Data Set Life Courses Release 2010.01.
The station was located in Utrecht until 1897, after which it was moved to nearby De Bilt.
The mean distance from municipality of residence to rainfall station was 49 km. The mean distance to temperature station was 44 km. The main results are robust to the exclusion of municipalities more than 50 km from either type of station.
When individuals are transferred to a system of registration that does not include the information necessary for the construction of household variables, such as personal rather than household cards, they are right-censored.
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We thank Kees Mandemakers for assistance with the HSN data and Peter Ekamper for access to historical climate data. PAA 2015 session chair Martin Dribe, discussant Jan Van Bavel, and session participants provided helpful comments and suggestions. This research is conducted with database access permission and in compliance with the data use agreement and privacy regulations of the Historical Sample of the Netherlands (HSN).
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Jennings, J.A., Gray, C.L. Climate and marriage in the Netherlands, 1871–1937. Popul Environ 38, 242–260 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11111-016-0266-7