Agency of Change: Fertility and Seasonal Migration in a Nineteenth Century Alpine Community

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Abstract in Undetermined
Using longitudinal data this work analyses historical fertility between 1834 and 1914 in an Alpine village situated in north-east Italy, characterised by scarce resources and by an economy which passed from being traditional and based on closed subsistence to becoming open and integrated. During the initial period studied, this territory can be described as a natural fertility context, where Malthusian preventive checks were long-run mechanisms adopted to overcome the limitations set by the environment. In later years, seasonal migration started to play a predominant role in the community. These flows involved the best skilled, wealthiest and healthiest males and the countries of destination were more modern and affluent, offered better labour opportunities and salaries and possibilities of qualification. Impacts on fertility were strong, evidencing a smaller number of births for migrants, which partly resulted from a reduced childbearing period, with a later start and an earlier stop. The findings of this work therefore show that due to the positive selectivity of these men and to the exposure to influences during their periods of absence, in this village seasonal migrants were the agents of change and also the vanguard of modern reproductive behaviours.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Economic History


  • Seasonal migration, Historical fertility, Fertility control, Italian Alps
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-485
JournalEuropean Journal of Population
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch