Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
From Provinces into Nations

From Provinces into Nations: Demographic Integration in Western Europe, 1870-1960

Susan Cotts Watkins
Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 254
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    From Provinces into Nations
    Book Description:

    Between 1870 and 1960, national boundaries became more evident on the demographic map of Western Europe. In most of the fifteen countries examined here, differences in marital fertility, illegitimacy, and marriage from one province (counties, cantons, arrondissements) to another diminished considerably. From Provinces into Nations describes this shift to greater national demographic homogeneity and places it in the context of a parallel decline in linguistic diversity, as well as in the context of increases in national market integration, the expansion of state activities, and nation-building.

    The book interprets the shift as evidence of the influence of communities on demographic behavior, and as an indication of the growing predominance of national over local communities. The author uses demographic data, too often the property of specialists, to examine themes of interest to historians, sociologists, economists, and political scientists interested in the integration of modern societies.

    Originally published in 1990.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6121-7
    Subjects: History, Population Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. CHAPTER 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-8)

    The term “the demographic transition” refers to the major declines in fertility and mortality that occurred in western Europe between 1870 and 1960 and subsequently in many countries of the developing world. Social scientists have given much attention to describing these changes and to understanding why they occurred. In this book, I ask another question: What happened to demographic diversity in western Europe during this century?

    The answer, as it turns out, is rather simple. In 1870 there was a great deal of diversity in childbearing and in marriage within each of the countries of western Europe. In Switzerland, for...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Western Europe around 1870
    (pp. 9-24)

    The primary aim of this chapter and chapter 3 is to set the stage by describing demographic variation in western Europe before the demographic transition. Establishing these parameters is important, because the characteristics of western European populations before the transition influence their subsequent trajectories. I begin by introducing the data and measures used in this and subsequent chapters. Attention will be paid to ways in which either the data or the measures of variation might exaggerate the demographic diversity of pretransition Europe and so bias the comparison with later dates. I then examine the ways in which local communities might...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Limits to Demographic Diversity
    (pp. 25-54)

    A world map of demographic behavior around 1870 would show western Europe in one color. The most distinctive feature was marriage behavior. In western Europe, women tended to marry relatively late and the proportion of spinsters was high, typically with fewer than half the women between the ages of fifteen and forty-nine married. In contrast, in most other parts of the world women typically married at a much younger age (under twenty) and few reached age fifty without having been married. In China in the early 1930s, the average age of marriage for women was less than eighteen, and over...

  9. CHAPTER 4 The Fertility Transition
    (pp. 55-83)

    In the latter part of the nineteenth century, western Europe began what was to be a revolution in reproductive arrangements.¹ In 1870 married couples could expect to bear between seven and eight children, on average; by 1960 they could expect to bear between two and three. Not only the low fertility was new, but also the adoption of fertility control within marriage to prevent more children. In previous centuries, most couples continued childbearing until their physiological capacity to do so was exhausted or until one of the spouses died. In most European countries starting in the nineteenth century, couples relied...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Demographic Nationalism
    (pp. 84-113)

    What happened to demographic diversity during and after the transition? In this chapter, I first consider what we would expect to happen on theoretical grounds. I then examine what did happen, looking first at the whole period from 1870 to 1960 and then focusing on 1960 in an analysis similar to that presented in chapter 3 for 1870.

    During a period of change, we expect variation to increase. Some provinces are likely to adopt new behavior earlier than others, thus making differences among provinces greater than they were before the change began. Because the timing of the changes in level...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Languages, Markets, States, and Nations
    (pp. 114-138)

    The strongest support for viewing the reduction in demographic diversity within countries as evidence for increased social integration within national boundaries comes from an examination of parallel changes in linguistic diversity. Direct interaction with others outside the provincial community depends on a shared language. In addition, those who speak the same language are more likely to be taken as models for behavior, and their praise or condemnation be taken seriously, than those whose distinctive language marks them as members of another community.

    Between 1870 and 1960 linguistic homogeneity increased in most of the countries of western Europe. France is perhaps...

  12. CHAPTER 7 From Peasants into Frenchwomen
    (pp. 139-166)

    In previous chapters I showed that in most European countries demographic diversity was less in 1960 than in 1870. I speculated that the integration of national markets, state expansion, and nation building were all likely to be relevant. In this chapter, I will extend the previous argument by distinguishing more precisely between two, quite different, possible effects of these processes.

    First, they may have made the circumstances in which local populations lived increasingly similar within each country. Market integration and state expansion would homogenize local circumstances. Market integration, for example, evened out wages and prices; state formation, and particularly the...

  13. CHAPTER 8 Conclusions
    (pp. 167-180)

    Ernest Gellner has written that there are two ethnographic maps, one drawn up before the age of nationalism, and the other after.

    The first map resembles a painting by Kokoschka. The riot of diverse points of colour is such that no clear pattern can be discerned in any detail, though the picture as a whole does have one. A great diversity and plurality and complexity characterizes all distinct parts of the whole: the minute social groups, which are the atoms of which the picture is composed, have complex and ambiguous and multiple relations to many cultures; some through speech, others...

  14. Appendix
    (pp. 181-210)
  15. References
    (pp. 211-228)
  16. Index
    (pp. 229-235)