Extended Households and Economic Dynamics in Orkney, Scotland, 1851-1901

Julia A. Jennings, Pennsylvania State University
Corey S. Sparks, University of Texas at San Antonio
James W. Wood, Pennsylvania State University
Patricia L. Johnson, Pennsylvania State University
Timothy M. Murtha, Pennsylvania State University

In preindustrial agrarian economies, the household is the primary unit of production, consumption, and demographic decision-making. Chayanov hypothesized a strong relationship between the intensity of domestic food production and the household’s demographic life cycle, summarized by changes in its consumer/producer (C/P) ratio. Hammel notes that the unfavorable changes in C/P ratios predicted for nuclear families may be reduced by household extension. We use a 50-year annual run of household data from a site with frequent household extension, the northern islands of Orkney, Scotland. Three issues are addressed: (i) does the moderating effect of extension on C/P ratios work as postulated by Hammel, (ii) do unfavorable C/P ratios in nuclear families predict subsequent household extension, and (iii) what is the effect of C/P ratios on the risk of household fissioning?

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Presented in Poster Session 5