|Reproductive behaviours in the Sardinian families in the 19th and 20th centuries:|
|In the pre-transitional and transitional period, Sardinia constituted, for many demographical aspects, a totally eccentric reality. Its levels of total fertility and infant mortality rates are, in fact, amongst the lowest for the whole country. Furthermore, even if it is situated at the heart of the Mediterranean, it is paradoxically the least “Mediterranean” amongst Italian regions. Its family formation model and the linked reproductive behaviours do not prove the distinctive traits of the theories proposed by Laslett, Hajnal and Smith. The Mediterranean model par excellence –patrilocal household, early female age at marriage and high fertility combined together – is far distant from the model that prevails in Sardinia. On the contrary, this last one is characterised by “simple neo-local household with late marriage for both sexes”, which corresponds to the “north-western European” model.
These are, of course, the features which characterised the Sardinian population at the general level.
In this paper we intend to analyse, at the micro-level (for the first time in Sardinia), the broader issue of reproduction. In contrast to studies that view reproduction prior to the modern fertility decline as driven largely by human biology, we introduce and emphasize the role of human agency, a conscious decision by individuals and families to act. The purpose of our analysis is to study the changes in the reproductive behaviours in the context where they occur, namely the couple and the household. In particular, we intend to investigate the differences which characterised the families and the individuals, and explore the presence of family clusters of higher fertility and infant/child mortality. The analysis will be focused on different communities located in the Northern part of the island, based on a rich data set we are reconstructing at individual level using parish and civil sources.