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The Role of Remarriage in a Microevolutionary Process: Considerations from a 19th-Century Italian Community

Matteo Manfredini and Marco Breschi
American Anthropologist
New Series, Vol. 108, No. 4 (Dec., 2006), pp. 854-861
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Anthropological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4496524
Page Count: 8
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The Role of Remarriage in a Microevolutionary Process: Considerations from a 19th-Century Italian Community
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Abstract

In this study, we investigate the extent to which social norms and cultural constraints might affect the genetic contribution of remarriage to future generations in a mid-19th century Italian population. By reconstructing the life histories of the inhabitants of Casalguidi, 1,028 marriages were recorded and analyzed. Frequency and reproductive pattern of remarriages were found to play a quantitatively important role in the process of population renewal, featuring 20 percent of total unions and 12 percent of total children borne between 1820-58. Cultural patterns shaped the access to remarriage, but widows resulted more open than widowers in the partner choice. Furthermore, remarriages were more likely consanguineous than first unions because of socioeconomic reasons. As a result, a genotypic differentiation between the offspring of first marriage and remarriage was found. However, the lower intensity of female remarriage and the predominance of widowers' unions limited the potential differentiation in the gene pool of offspring.

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