MPIDR Working Paper
The Patriarchy Index: a comparative study of power relations across historic Europe
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2014-007, 43 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (July 2014)
This paper stands at the confluence of three streams of historical social science analysis: the sociological study of power relations within the family, the regional demography of historical Europe, and the study of spatial patterning of historical family forms in Europe. It is a preliminary exercise in the design and application of the new “master variable” for cross-cultural studies of family organization and relations. This indexed composite measure, which we call the Index of Patriarchy, incorporates a range of variables related to familial behavior, including nuptiality and age at marriage, living arrangements, postmarital residence, power relations within domestic groups, the position of the aged, and the sex of the offspring. The index combines all these items, with each being given equal weight in the calculation of the final score, which represents the varying degrees of sex- and age-related social inequality (“patriarchal bias”) in different societal and familial settings. To explore the comparative advantages of the Index, we use information from census and census-like microdata for 91 regions of historic Europe covering more than 700,000 individuals living in 143,000 domestic groups from the Atlantic to the Urals. The index allows us to identify regions with different degrees of patriarchy within a single country, across the regions of a single country, or across and within many broader zones of historic Europe. The unprecedented patterning of the many elements of power relations and agency contained in the index generates new ways of accounting for both the geographies and the histories of family organization across the European landmass.
Keywords: Europe, patriarchy