Intergenerational mobility in the Ottoman Empire: Observations from eighteenth-century Kastamonu

Ergene B. A., Kaygun A.

HISTORY OF THE FAMILY, vol.16, no.1, pp.30-46, 2011 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 16 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.hisfam.2010.10.003
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.30-46
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: No


Based on probate estate inventories from eighteenth-century Kastamonu in north Anatolia, this study examines intergenerational mobility patterns in one Ottoman provincial town. Although the topic is well-studied in many Western contexts, historical and contemporary, we still know little about the ways in which socioeconomic disparities and class identities were transmitted across subsequent generations of parents and children in the Ottoman Empire. In order to explore this issue in a sophisticated fashion, this article introduces quantitative techniques and categories of analysis tailored specifically for Ottoman sources. In addition to other findings, our analysis suggests that Kastamonu in the eighteenth century was vertically and horizontally segmented: Not only were there significant impediments to intergenerational mobility across privileged and underprivileged sectors of the society, such transitions were also infrequent across sub-groups within upper and lower classes. Despite a general lack of intergenerational fluidity at all socioeconomic levels, however, our calculations also reveal that the provincial elite were particularly immobile. (C) 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.