Kinship, demographic, social, and geographic characteristics of mate choice in Sanday, Orkney Islands, Scotland

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Abstract

The study examines marriage patterns for Sanday, a small, rural isolate in the Orkney Islands, during periods of rapid change in population growth and size. Kinship, demographic, social, and geographic characteristics of married residents born when fertility was high and population size large, are compared with those of couples born after both fertility and size began to decrease. Although social composition of spouses remained relatively unaffected for cohorts born between 1800 and 1964, significant changes in patterns of mate choice were observed with respect to consanguinity, age at marriage, age difference between spouses, birth order, sibship size, geographic propinquity, and the interaction of kinship with the other variables. Implications of observed changes in patterns of mate choice are discussed in relation to changes in population size and isolate breakdown.

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