Social Homogamy in Spain at the Time of Modernisation, 1841-70 Articles uri icon

publication date

  • November 2021

start page

  • 682

end page

  • 708


  • 4


  • 26

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1081-602X

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-5398


  • Rather than the exception, social homogamy was the rule in past societies, where ascribed status was a key factor in the matching process. However, frameworks like the modernisation theory predict that as a society modernises, ascribed status loses influence against achieved status. According to this setting, the new economic and social opportunities offered by the industrialisation of an economy enhance the independence of young people from their families in the creation of a new household. This paper makes use of a newly assembled database of around 32,000 marriage records in Spain at the time of its modernisation. Our results show that as the secondary and especially the service sectors increased, the influence of ascribed status decreased and the influence of achieved status increased. The division of the sample in three different social groups shows that this pattern was clearer for the low and middle classes, while modernisation variables do not seem to play any significant role – positive or negative – in the elites, where the marriage markets show a very particular pattern. We believe that the importance of the service sector is related to new job opportunities that appeared for young individuals from the lowest social classes. Although these opportunities could help to improve their independence from their families strengthening their role in the marriage market, it is not that clear that it helped to improve their living conditions.


  • social homogamy; modernisation theory; industrialisation; spain; marriage