Differences in the Mortality Chances of Brothers and Sisters in Taiwan and the Netherlands, 1860-1940.
I got a PhD position at the Radboud University Nijmegen as a result of the scholarships of the NWO Graduate Programme assigned to the N.W. Posthumus Institute. From September 2013 until September 2018 I will therefore be working as a PhD Candidate at the section of Economic, Social and Demographic History, Department of History.
Sibling groups are a fascinating research subject because the ties between brothers and sisters may be seen as life’s longest relationship. In addition, one of the most intriguing aspects of siblings is their quality of ‘unity in difference’. Brothers and sisters are equals in the sense that they have a common background, shared childhood memories, similar family resources and specific family traditions. Still, they are also different because hierarchy and inequality among siblings are the result of disparities in age, gender and birth position.
Before, and during, the demographic transition brothers and sisters grew up surrounded by a much larger number of siblings. Moreover, previous research indicated that siblings played an important role in demographic events, such as migration and marriage, through sibship size and composition, underscoring the concept of linked lives. However, the investigation of their influence on mortality has hardly begun, especially from a global comparative perspective.
The proposed research aims to fill this gap and will describe and explain the differences between siblings and their influence on each other’s mortality chances in Taiwan and the Netherlands by addressing the following question: “Why, a nd under which circumstances, did siblings affect childhood and youth mortality during the period 1860-1940? And how did their roles differ and overlap at both ends of the Eurasian continent?” This question will be addressed from the theoretical framework of family systems. In addition, this project will not only investigate the differences between Asian and West-European family systems, but also the regional variation within both family systems. By applying a life course approach sibling relations are studied in a dynamic way, focusing on mortality chances within the historical, cultural and geographical context in which their lives are embedded. Quantitative longitudinal data from population registers will be used as main source, and complemented with qualitative sources.