Population and Environment

Julia A. Jennings* and Clark L. Gray



Environmental factors such as climate variability can place significant constraints on demographic behavior in a range of settings. However, few studies investigate the relationships between demography and climate in historical contexts. Using longitudinal individual-level demographic data from the Historical Sample of the Netherlands (HSN) and climate and economic data from 1871 to 1937, we examine the effects of climate variability on marriage. This analysis reveals that marriage increases with negative environmental conditions such as cold temperatures, riverine flooding, and high rye prices. These findings are not consistent with a Malthusian narrative of marriage behavior or with the expectation that environmental constraints were stronger in the historical past.

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* Denotes CSDA Associates, Affiliates, and Staff