Disabled and Unmarried? Marital Chances Among Disabled People in Nineteenth-Century Northern Sweden

Helena Haage, Lotta Vikström, Erling Häggström Lundevaller


To marry and form a household of one’s own was the expected life course of most people in the nineteenth century, but little is known about whether individuals with disabilities shared the same demographic experience of marriage as non-disabled did. This study examines this issue by analyzing the marital chances of a group of disabled people—i.e. blind, deaf mute, crippled and with mental disabilities—compared with a non-disabled reference group. Our results show that about a quarter of the disabled individuals did marry, even though their marital propensities were significantly lower than those of non-disabled people. These propensities also differed by gender and type of disability. We suggest that the lower marital chances and the variation we found within the group of disabled people indicate the level of social exclusion they faced in society.

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