Journal of Family History: Studies in Family, Kinship and Demography vol:27 issue:2 pages:101-127
The development of age at first marriage in three regions of Flanders (roughly the northern part of Belgium) during 1800 to 1913 is examined by gender and social status. The study areas are Leuven, Aalst, and Bierbeek-three municipalities with different socioeconomic structures and cultural climates. All the data from these municipalities were coded and taken front almost 17,000 marriage certificates. The demographic marriage parameters point to the same thing: from the mid-nineteenth century, a passionate zest for marriage became obvious in Flanders. The proportion of those remaining unmarried fell sharply, and age at first marriage declined rapidly. This process occurred among all social groups. It is hypothesized that this process can be explained by the changed social position and gender identity of women, together with the new economic possibilities for men.