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Adoption among the Qing nobility and its implications for Chinese demographic behavior

Authors Feng, W.
Lee, James View this author's profile
Issue Date 1998
Source The history of the family , v. 3, (4), 1998, p. 411-427
Summary The article draws on a source of unusual completeness and accuracy - the genealogical archives of the Qing imperial lineage - to provide an initial quantitative study of son adoption among the Qing nobility during the last imperial dynasty (1644-1911). Adoption was used rather frequently not only for genealogical purposes to continue the ancestral line, but also for economic security. Adoption was also an integral component of the Chinese historical demographic system and therefore varied in frequency according to the level of fertility and mortality. After a discussion of the sources for lineage population history, the article calculates the levels of son adoption over time and highlight the demographic and economic circumstances leading to adoption. It then analyzes the social relationships between biological and adoptive parents as a function of noble status and generational distance, and comments on the role of adoption as a means of social mobility within the lineage population.
ISSN 1081-602X
Language English
Format Article
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