Sunday, December 06, 2009

Quote Of the Day

Catherine Bennett in the Guardian:

For much of its history the length of the average union, before it was ended by the death of a partner, was the same as it is now, before being terminated by divorce: 11 years.


Jane said...

I'd be interested in knowing what "for much of its history" means, given how long marriage has been around. Was this the average in ancient Egypt? Classical Rome? Medieval Europe? How do they know?

Roger Owen Green said...

Ah, so the 11-year itch is actually some fatal disease.

Chris Black said...

Jane, that's a good question. I don't know Catherine Bennetts source and I can't seem to find out on the net.

Here's a crude attempt to work something out:

An article on the BBC website states:

The average life expectancy for a male child born in the UK between 1276 and 1300 was 31.3 years

However, by the time the 13th-Century boy had reached 20 he could hope to live to 45, and if he made it to 30 he had a good chance of making it into his fifties.

Additionally, young men were generally involved in manual labour and this led to an increased risk of death as a result of accidents at work.

This also meant that any man who reached the end of his working life (at around 40) would have a good chance of living to a decent age.

But between the ages of 14 and 40 - the years of having children - a woman's life expectancy was half that of a man's.

One reason offered for this is that having babies in the middle ages was more dangerous than going to war.

Women did take the lead - again, by 10% - in life expectancy after the age of 40.

An article on teen marriage at me :

By 1427, the average male of all classes did not wed til he was in his mid-30s, usually choosing a bride about half his age. Rich girls seemed to marry at a younger age than poor girls.

So, take couples where the groom is 33 and his bride is 18.

Couple one and two are both average in life expectancy , the groom lives to about 58, the bride lives to about 33. So the marriage lasts 15 years (when she dies).

Couple three are both unlucky, he dies at 45 she dies at 22. So the marriage lasts 4 years (when she dies).

Couple four gave an unlucky bride, dying at 22, but the groom is lucky or average. So the marriage last 4 years (when she dies).

Couple five have an unlucky groom , dying at 45, but the bride does average or better, dying at 35. So the marriage lasts 12 years (when he dies)

Finally, couple six are both lucky. The groom lives to 65, the bride lives to 70. So the marriage lasts 32 years (when he dies)

The total length of the 6 marriges is 15+15+4+4+12+32 = 82.

Divide by 6 , that gives you 13.6 years, which isn't too far out from 11 !

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