The Economic History of Modern Britain.
- H. J. Habakkuk
between proto-industrialization or industrialization and changes in opportunities for marriage. The standard historical argument was summarized a decade ago by D. E. C. Eversley (1965:45): the ability to marry was contingent, in pre-industrial societies, upon access to land in the peasant economy; in the cities guilds &dquo;were supposed to be powerful bars to marriage.&dquo; When the system broke down, so the argument goes, &dquo;an urban proletariat was created, at least in some cases, and this may have led to a lowering of the age at marriage, and the shedding of all prudential restraint.&dquo; Eversley himself disagreed with this interpretation but nonetheless expected a possible lowering of marriage age in the industrial sector &dquo;as the response ... to increased employment opportunity.&dquo; But he also pointed out that both age at marriage and proportions remaining single for life remained fairly constant over the period of European industrialization. Demographic and social historians have frequently concentrated on the specific relationship between proletarianization and nuptiality; much of the literature on this question has resulted from the attempt to explain the population growth which accompanied European industrialization. For example, W. Petersen (1960), in analysing the demographic transition in the Netherlands, emphasized the traditional importance of marriage-regulating devices. The pervasive principle &dquo;that a