Isolation and marriage patterns in four South Tyrolean villages (Italy) during the nineteenth century
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No information is currently available on the marriage patterns of German-speaking communities of the South Tyrol area. The aim of this study is to investigate the reproductive isolation of four South Tyrolean mountain villages during the 19th century. Data about 3953 marriages were drawn from existing pedigrees and completed with data from the parish registers of the studied villages to calculate the following indicators: age at marriage, endogamy, inbreeding from dispensations and from isonymy and repeated pairs of surnames among couples. The results show high levels of endogamy (78-87%) and an elevated age at marriage in all the studied villages. The percentages of consanguineous marriages (10-33%) vary considerably but result overall in relatively low inbreeding values (alpha 0.0015-0.0036; Ft 0.0098-0.0138). Levels of endogamy are consistent with the geographic characteristics of the area, while inbreeding values are lower than those observed in previous studies on Alpine communities. This is due to a low frequency of marriages between close relatives, probably related to the peculiar demographic and cultural characteristics of the studied populations that differentiate them from neighbouring Italian-speaking villages.