Family and Population in 19th Century America

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Representing new approaches to the study of the family and historical demography, this collection of essays analyzes the relationships of demographic processes in different population groups to household structure and family organization, and their implications for family behavior. Emphasizing dynamic rather than structural factors, the essays thus move beyond earlier studies of family history.

Essays by the editors, Richard Easterlin, George Alter, Gretchen Condran, and Stanley Engerman focus on patterns of fertility in relation to urban and industrial development, economic opportunity and the availability of land, and race and ethnic origin. The remaining essays, by Laurence Glasco, Howard Chudacoff, and John Modell, deal with family organization over time as affected by such factors as the practice of boarding, the role of kin, family budgeting strategy, and migration.

The authors not only challenge the prevailing assumption that rapid urbanization is responsible for the decline in the fertility rate; they also contend that, contrary to the prevailing theories of social change, the emergence of nuclear households was not a consequence of industrialization.

Originally published in 1978.

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