We use a unique dataset to analyze marriage and union patterns of the European nobility from the 1500s to the 1800s. Historical evidence shows that: nobles tended to marry nobles with identical title; and, German marriages, whose dowry rules were more rigid, were characterized by a higher degree of homogamy in titles than English marriages. Moreover, we show that German data exhibit lower odds of intermarriage than English among high ranked titles, and hence provide evidence of a more stratified society. We propose a matching model that rationalizes our empirical findings: it predicts homogamy in title, and that more stringent constraints on the dowries lead to a higher degree of homogamy.
Marriage Strategy Among the European Nobility
N34: Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy: Europe: 1913-
HCEO Working Groups:
First version, August, 2018