Sunday, October 31, 2004

The sociology of star-crossed romance

Interesting post here at 2 Blowhards on the effect of urban demographics and marriage practices in Renaissance Italy on the plotlines of Romeo & Juliet.

The usual references are made to the violence-inducing tendencies of wide sex ratio imbalances and their implications for peace in our time. This came up in my family law class during our discussion of sex selective abortions. The economist in me assumed that a reduction in the supply of women would give females more power, not less - more choice of suitors, a collapse of the dowry system, etc. Unfortunately, cultural norms are harder to break that that. Without protection for women's rights and a strong rule of law, women simply become attractive targets for thieves.
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