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Living arrangements and the elderly Casalguidi, 1819-59. M. Manfredini, M. Breschi & A. Fornasin. The starting point.

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m manfredini m breschi a fornasin

Living arrangements and the elderly

Casalguidi, 1819-59

M. Manfredini, M. Breschi & A. Fornasin

the starting point
The starting point

One of the main assumptions of family historians is that elderly people living in large and complex households could count on more favorable living conditions than those living in nuclear ones. There is in fact large agreement that complex households – multigenerational households in particular - could provide the elderly with “a secure existence through co-residence with their children” (Kertzer, 1995, 368), and that they were also in a position of power and great authority over the whole household.

Our goal is to check whether such social and structural differences could turn into mortality differentials for the elderly of a Tuscan community of mid-19th century – CASALGUIDI - in which two opposite family systems co-existed, the joint family system of sharecroppers and the nuclear family system of day laborers.

the population of casalguidi 1819 59
The population of Casalguidi, 1819-59

Mean Pop. Size 2,400

Mean Household number462

Economy

Prevalently rural and characterized by the typical Tuscan sharecropping, called Mezzadria

Political situation

In the period 1819-59, Casalguidi belonged to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. In 1861 it became part of the Italian Kingdom

Casalguidi

sharecroppers and day laborers two opposite family systems
Sharecroppers and day laborersTwo opposite family systems

Sharecroppers

Late marriage (yrs)

28.7 M 24.9 F

High permanent celibacy rates (%)

14.8 11.5

Living arrangement

Joint family system

Day laborers

Earlier marriage only for M (yrs)

27.3 M 25.0 F

Lower permanent celibacy rates (%)

7.5 5.3

Living arrangement

Nuclear family system

method
Method

Raw Data1. Parish registers of Birth, Marriage and Death for

the period 1819-1859

2. Annual Stati Animarum (census-like data)

3. Family Tax Registers

TechniqueNominative Record Linkage

DatasetHousehold, individual and couple life-histories reconstructed year by year and linked to SES information. Up to date, the dataset consists of circa 100,000 person- years and 19,000 household-years

household structure and the elderly household perspective
Household structure and the elderlyHousehold perspective

% of households with elderly people by household structure

Complex = Multiple, extended, and frereche

headship rate
Headship rate

Males

Females

households with elderly people by family tax and structure
Households with elderly people by Family Tax and structure (%)

Total = Complex + Nuclear + One-person hh + No structure hh

event history analysis models of old age mortality variables
Event History AnalysisModels of Old Age Mortality – Variables
  • Household structure
      • Nuclear, both parents coresiding (reference category)
      • Nuclear, one-parent household
      • Complex, 1 conjugal unit
      • Complex, 2+ conjugal units
      • No structure
  • Family Tax (proxy of wealth and SES)
      • Untaxed (reference category)
      • Low Tax Group
      • Medium & High Tax Group

The model controls also for individual’s age, position within the household (HH or not), and for the cholera epidemic of 1854-55

event history analysis models of old age mortality results
Event History AnalysisModels of Old Age Mortality – Results

In bold, coefficients statistically significant at p<0.05.

conclusions
Conclusions…
  • In the mid-19th century community of Casalguidi, two very different family systems co-existed: the joint-family system of sharecroppers and the nuclear family system of day laborers.
  • On account of the different socioeconomic status of the two farm categories, elderly individuals living in complex households were in better economic conditions than those in nuclear ones.
  • Did living arrangement and SES have an effect on elderly mortality? Which counted more? Event History Analysis of old-age mortality has showed that the survival of old age people was largely conditioned by household SES (Family Tax), whereas the form of living arrangement did play only a marginal (and not significant) role, both for males and females.

…and future perspectives

  • Shifting from the rigid and schematic categorization of the forms of living arrangement to the more dynamic analysis of co-resident individuals
  • Including the kin network outside the household as a potential explicative factor of differentials in old age mortality.
household structure and the elderly individual perspective
Household structure and the elderlyIndividual perspective

Modifications/changes in living arrangements of elderly people. Only individuals observed for 5+ years.

Nuclear – Complex = 55.6%

Complex – Nuclear = 25.5%

Others = 19.0%

Complex = 69.9%

Nuclear = 24.9%

Others = 5.2%