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Abstract

This paper presents first results from a project to reconstitute the demographic behavior of three villages in Württemberg (southern Germany) from the mid-sixteenth to the early twentieth century. Using high-quality registers of births, deaths, and marriages, and unusual ancillary sources, we improve on the family-reconstitution techniques pioneered by Louis Henry and applied to good effect by the Cambridge Group and other scholars. This paper focuses on simple, standard demographic measures, in order to provide a broad overview and support comparisons with other places. An extreme system of demographic regulation operated in these Württemberg communities until around 1870. This regulation created a two-tiered demographic system. A group of “insiders” were able to marry, and experienced both high marital fertility and high infant and child mortality. A second group, of “outsiders”, were prevented from marrying. Many, especially the males, left the community; those who stayed contributed to growing illegitimacy and associated levels of infant and child mortality that were even higher than for the offspring of “insiders”.

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