Articles Tagged with: The Demographics of Household Composition

The Demographics of Household Composition

What sort of households were these? The size of the sample does not allow us to go into a very detailed analysis, for the census listings give us only a cross-sectional snapshot and almost no clues as to the dynamics of families and households in the neighborhood. Besides, such an analysis might not even be meaningful when done on the basis of a single Istanbul mahalle. It is highly unlikely that families and households in Kasap ƒlyas (or those in any other Istanbul mahalle of similar size, for that matter) could have had dynamic and structural characteristics singular enough to clearly differentiate them from those of other areas of late Ottoman Istanbul.
In the absence of comparable data sets for other neighborhoods, we will therefore underline a few salient features of these 242 Kasap ƒlyas households, and exclude all attempts at generalization as well as claims of representativity.
The analysis for the whole of Istanbul has been done elsewhere.9 We shall see that there are noteworthy differences between the households of the Istanbulites and those of the migrants (Arapkirlis and others) living in Kasap ƒlyas, and that the contrast deserves special emphasis.
There were only 15 female-headed households in Kasap ƒlyas, that is, 6.2 percent of all households. The percentage was around 15 percent for the whole of Istanbul. Only 5 percent of Kasap ƒlyas households consisted of “solitaries,” compared to no less than 18 percent for the whole of the city.10
One hundred twenty-one households of Kasap ƒlyas (exactly 50 percent) were “simple family households,” or “nuclear” households. That is, they consisted of a married couple and of their offspring, if any. The corresponding percentage was 25.1 percent for Istanbul as a whole at that time.11 These features are directly related to the type of migrants that the mahalle had been receiving for some time.
One hundred sixty-four households in the mahalle out of 242 (67.8 percent) were two-generation households, that is, they contained kin from two generations. Thirty-three (13.6 percent) were “three-generation households,” and they contained a grandfather and/or a grandmother and one or more grandsons and/or granddaughters. The “no-family households,” that is, those households that contained people with no apparent kinship relationship, were but a small minority (only 10 households). These structural characteristics show a marked difference when viewed against the geographic origin of the household heads (see tables 4.2 and 4.5).
Out of the nearly 200 married men living in Kasap ƒlyas in 1885, only 4 were polygynously married, and each had two wives. The general rate of polygyny for married Muslim men was around a low 2.5 percent for the whole of Istanbul at the time.12 It was therefore even slightly lower for the Kasap ƒlyas mahalle. Wealth and the existence of a religious connection were the main factors which, in late Ottoman Istanbul, accompanied or enhanced the propensity to marry polygynously. And Kasap ƒlyas was neither particularly well-off, nor did it contain (contrary to the mahalles which, especially in
the Fatih District, surrounded the traditional theological schools, the medreses) men having prominent positions within the Ottoman religious hierarchy.
Besides, citywide data have shown that Ottoman men born in the capital were, in general, less prone to enter into polygynous unions than their provincial counterparts. Not surprisingly, in Kasap ƒlyas, three out of the four polygynous men and six out of their eight wives had been born in the provinces. One of these men, Hasan Efendi, aged 42 in 1885, was a weigher (kantar memuru) and had been born in the northeastern Anatolian town of Gümüœhane. Two of the polygynous husbands of Kasap ƒlyas were straightforward Arapkirlis: Hüseyin Efendi the street-porter (küfeci), aged 40 and living at 38 Ispanakçı Viranesi, and Ömer Efendi, aged 35, made a living by hiring out his horse (beygirci). The four spouses related to Hüseyin and Ömer had all been born in Arapkir, just like their husbands. As to the fourth polygynous husband, Abdülkadir Efendi, he was a retired civil servant and was living in his house at 54 Samatya Street. Abdülkadir Efendi was 61 in 1885 and had been born in Istanbul. His two wives, Nefise, age 70, and Sıdıka, age 35, were both of Circassian origin, conceivably manumitted slaves.
Classifying the male and female Kasap ƒlyas inhabitants in 1885 according to age and marital status, we calculated that the Singulate Mean Age at Marriage (SMAM) in 1885 was 20.0 for women and 30.4 for men. The Singulate Mean Age at Marriage (SMAM) is a cross-sectional nuptiality index calculated from census or survey data. It pertains only to the year in which the census or the survey was taken. It is an approximation used by demographers to replace the usual mean age at marriage when time-series or
cohort data on male and female marriage ages are not available. This SMAM of 20.0 for women living in Kasap ƒlyas was slightly—though not necessarily very significantly, from a statistical viewpoint—higher than that for Istanbul as a whole in the same census (19.1). The mean age for men, however, as well as the age-difference between spouses, matches fairly well the average figure for Istanbul.13
A significant difference appears here between those couples who had been born in Istanbul and those who were not. The average age-difference between spouses was 11.5 years for the Kasap ƒlyas couples in which the wife was born in Istanbul and only 7.4 years for those where she was born in the provinces. In Istanbul, marriages followed—demographically speaking—a so- called Mediterranean age-pattern, with men marrying, on the average, rather late and women quite early. Therefore, couples had a larger age gap than in traditional peasant societies, such as much of the rural areas of the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire. The figures for Kasap ƒlyas confirm what we know of the marriage patterns in Istanbul and of its differences with its Anatolian counterpart.
In 1885 there were 190 married couples in Kasap ƒlyas for which the exact birthplaces of both spouses were known. Table 4.3 gives their crossdistribution.
The distribution in table 4.3 tells us that in 61 percent (43 + 73/66 + 124) of the married couples living in Kasap ƒlyas, husbands and wives had been born in the same locality. The proportion is 65 percent (43/66) for Istanbul-born husbands and 59 percent (73/124) for the province-born mar-ried men. On the whole, married women had been born in the provinces in a smaller proportion than their husbands. Otherwise stated, a few men (5, to be precise [124–119]) born in the provinces had married women from the capital. This fact, plus the high rate of regional endogamy, confirms that migration to Kasap ƒlyas had not been of a temporary or seasonal type. On the contrary, permanent familial migration was the prevalent type. That couples and families could have been formed or reunited after the initial move to Istanbul of one of its members is, of course, not to be excluded.

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