The Journal of Economic History


Marriage, Bargaining, and Intrahousehold Resource Allocation: Excess Female Mortality among Adults during Early German Development, 1740–1860

Stephan Klasena1

a1 Department of Economics, University of Munich, Schackstrasse 4, 80539 Munich, Germany.


This article investigates sex-specific mortality rates in eighteenth- and nineteenthcentury rural Germany to determine whether there was any gender bias in the allocation of household resources. Family reconstitution data from 60 villages provide evidence of considerable excess female mortality among married adults. The empirical findings are consistent with a bargaining approach to understanding intrahousehold resource allocation and suggest that women's survival disadvantage is related to their positions in the remarriage market, the perceived value of their work, as well as differences in altruism. Agricultural change appears to be one factor responsible for the emergence of this disadvantage.