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A death in the family: Household structure and mortality in rural liaoning: Life-event and time-series analysis, 1792-1867

Authors Campbell, Cameron Dougall View this author's profile
Lee, James View this author's profile
Issue Date 1996
Source The history of the family , v. 1, (3), 1996, p. 297-328
Summary In China before the twentieth century, the household was a locus of social and economic organization in which resources and responsibilities were allocated. This study shows that the structure of the relationships between coresident kin conditioned the allocation process. Through a discrete-time life-event analysis of triennial household register data from a northeast Chinese village, Daoyi, between 1774 and 1873, we find that an individual's probability of dying, which we treat as an indicator of access to resources and the nature of household roles, was affected by the composition of their coresident kin. As is the case in contemporary societies, widows and widowers had higher mortality than the currently married. Orphans had higher mortality than children with at least one parent present. Reflecting the dependence of a wife's status on whether she had produced an heir for her husband, married women in young adulthood and middle age who had at least one son had substantially lower mortality than those without. Reflecting the strength of the claim that elderly males could make on household resources, children with coresident grandfathers had higher mortality than those without. Even though sons were supposed to be a form of old-age security, however, the death rate of the elderly was not reduced by the presence of sons and grandsons. © 1996 JAI Press Inc.
ISSN 1081-602X
Language English
Format Article
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