The European Marriage Pattern, Female Empowerment and Economic Development in
How women increasingly became economic agents in early modern Europe is the focus of this stimulating book, which highlights how female agency was crucial for understanding the development of the Western European economy and sheds light on economic development today.Jan Luiten van Zanden, Tine De Moor and Sarah Carmichael argue that over centuries a "European Marriage Pattern" developed, characterized by high numbers of singles among men and
women, high marriage ages among men and women, and neolocality, where the couple forms a new nuclear household and did not co-reside with the parents of either bride or groom. This was due to the
influence of the Catholic Church's teachings of marriage based on consensus, the rise of labor markets, and institutions concerning property transfers between generations that enhanced wage labor by women. Over time an unprecedented demographic regime was created and embedded in a highly commercial environment in which households interacted frequently with labor, capital and commodity markets. This was one of the main causes of the gradual move away from a Malthusian state towards an economy
able to generate long-term economic growth.The authors explore how the pattern was influenced by and influenced female human capital formation, access to the capital market, and participation
in the labor market. They use numerous measures of economic activity, including the unique "Girlpower-Index" that measures the average age at first marriage of women minus the spousal age gap, with higher absolute age at marriage and lower spousal age gap both indicating greater female agency and autonomy. The book also examines how this measure can increase understanding of contemporary dynamics of women and the economy. The authors thus shed light on the degree to which
women are allowed to play an influential role in and on the economy and society, which varies greatly from one society to another.