Historically Increasing Marriage Delay in a Foraging Population: Tests of Ecological Hypotheses

David Nolin

Lamalera is a subsistence fishing and whaling village in southeast Indonesia. Compared to other foraging populations Lamalera exhibits several peculiar demographic features, most strikingly an extremely late age at first marriage. In 2006 the average age of marriage for resident married females was 27.0 years; for males 28.3 years. Other features include high rates of celibacy, emigration, and children entering the clergy, producing an overall demographic pattern remarkably similar to that observed in early modern Europe. Using historical demographic data from local parish registers, it is shown that age at marriage has been increasing throughout the 20th Century. Three hypotheses derived human behavioral ecology are presented as possible explanations for this delay: human capital investment, brideprice inflation, and ecological constraints. None of these hypotheses individually appears satisfactorily to explain marriage delay in Lamalera, though it may be possible that several are acting together to produce the observed delays.

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Presented in Session 49: Evolutionary Approaches to Demography