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date: 12 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay explores the documentary and skeletal evidence for understanding the relationship between gender and population change in the Middle Ages by focusing on mortality, fertility, and migration. Although cemeteries and historical records both show high sex ratios that imply female supermortality, the explanations offered for this imbalance indicate little consensus, not least because of gender biases in the extant records and in the methods employed to exploit them. Studies of fertility throw a helpful light on gender and population change, even though lack of direct data has forced demographers to develop innovative, if often controversial, ways to understand how fertility worked, through such measures as female age at marriage, proportions of women married, and household size. New techniques such as mitochondrial DNA and isotope analysis show that women migrated over greater distances than did men, while documentary evidence for migration over short distances reveals that women did not always move for the same reasons as men.

Keywords: demography, paleodemography, archaeology, mortality, women and work, fertility, age at marriage, nuptiality, migration

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