Marriage, Household Context and Socioeconomic Differentials: Evidence From a Northeastern Town in Japan, 1729-1870

  • Satomi Kurosu Reitaku University
  • Miyuki Takahashi Rissho University
  • Hao Dong Center on Contemporary China, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, Princeton University


This study utilizes one of the best sets of surviving historical registration records from a non-rural population in early modern Japan to examine whether and how socioeconomic status (property) and household context (power) influenced the first marriage of sons and daughters. Different incentives and disincentives associated with socioeconomic status and household context shaped differential marriage behavior. Males and females of higher socioeconomic status were more likely to marry. The presence of parents favored marriage, especially of inheriting sons and daughters. The presence of siblings also influenced the timing and type of marriage. This study confirms the property–power framework of the Eurasian Population and Family History Project (EAP), a comparative study of demographic behavior across diverse socioeconomic and cultural settings. It is also among the first empirical studies on determinants of nuptiality for a non-rural population in early modern Japan.