Midis de la recherche

29 septembre 2020



Leclercq 61

Hideko Matsuo, Koen Matthijs (KU Leuven),

Evolution of spousal age gap trends in first marriages and the role of secularization: empirical evidences from two provinces in Flanders from early 19th to early 20th century


This paper examines the role of secularization on the evolution of the spousal age differences in first marriages in two Belgian provinces, from early 19th to early 20th century. During this period, age at first marriage and proportion never married declined, and the role of marriage, and partner selection criteria changed. We examine spousal age gaps in first marriages using individual civil marriage registers of West Flanders and Flemish Brabant from 1800 to 1913. Our results reveal cross- and intra-regional differences on spousal age gaps, representing different socio-economic, and cultural profiles. We find limited evidence on the role of marriage seasonality at the individual level on age homogamy. However, we find evidence that marriages occurring in municipalities with weak presence and normative control of the Catholic church, have higher levels of age homogamy. We find indication of high levels of age homogamy in cities. Individual level socio-economic characteristics also play an important role on age homogamy, with differences across provinces.