Malthusian sinners: illegitimate fertility and early marriage in times of economic crisis. A case study in Leuven, 1846-1856.

This article focuses on nineteenth century women that broke Malthusian principles by getting pregnant out of wedlock and by marrying early. It starts from the common denominator in scholarly debate, which associates sexual intercourse of single young women with proletarian living and working conditions, isolation from the family of origin, and migration. The Belgian population registers allow to shed more empirical light on the effects of living conditions. The findings incite to have a closer look at the structure of the marriage market in order to explain illegitimacy and bridal pregnancy.