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Kinship structures and survival: Maternal mortality on the Croatian-Bosnian border 1750-1898

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This is an analysis of maternal survival of up to 13,202 mothers following 56,546 births in south central Slavonia (Croatia) in the period 1714-1898, using automated family reconstitution of 23,307 marriages, 112,181 baptisms, and 94,077 burials from seven contiguous Catholic parishes. Physiological factors have the effects commonly expected. Maternal risk is increased by general economic and social conditions that are plausibly related to withdrawal of men's labour from family farming as a result of military mobilizations and growing levels of wage labour. Risk is decreased by membership in large patriarchal kin groups, but is increased by both the presence of classic rivals (husband's brothers' wives) and being married to a husband junior among his brothers. The analysis demonstrates the sensitivity of maternal survival to macrolevel changes in such factors as the collapse of feudalism, military involvement, economic stagnation, and monetization, as well as to microeconomic and micropolitical factors at the household and local kin-group level.
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Keywords: Croatia; Slavonia; feudalism; historical demography; kinship; maternal mortality; networks; patriarchy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of California at Berkeley

Publication date: July 1, 2004

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