MPIDR Working Paper

Families and states: citizenship and demography in the Greco-Roman world

Hin, S. C.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2010-005, 22 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (January 2010)
Open Access


This paper investigates the interrelationship between states and families. At different levels of organization, both play a large role in shaping the context in which individuals live their lives. Yet when it comes to understanding key demographic events in the ancient Mediterranean world – birth, marriage, migration, family structures, and death – they are hardly brought together. In this paper, I argue that Greek and Roman demographic patterns were tightly connected with their own specific political-institutional frameworks that developed over the course of (city-)state formation processes. This interaction was shaped in particular by the emergence of diverging notions of citizenship in the Greek and the Roman world, which went hand in hand with the installment of disparate incentives and disincentives to certain demographic behaviors. Differing citizenship criteria, in other words, invoked different demographic behaviors. A ‘political demography’ perspective, therefore, helps us understand how and why Greek and Roman individuals selected their marriage candidates on different criteria, and sheds light on divergences in their respective emphases on extended family ties.
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.