In this study the matter of mate selection at marriage in the Netherlands has been raised. Apart from a literature study this study has been based on two field surveys carried out in March and April 1976. The problem dealt with in this report has been formulated as follows: has a change appeared in successing generations in the Netherlands in the complex of factors and/or the power of relations within the complex of factors which influence mate selection and what are the consequences of this eventual change for the theory building about mate selection. Within this framework 21 hypotheses have been put to the test. These hypotheses are partly based on existing literature.
In the first chapter the most important concepts emerging from literature about mate selection have been treated. The central idea has been formed by homogamy. In this chapter homogamy has been related to geographic propinquity, racial and ethnic background, religious denomination, level of education and social class. Moreover the incest-taboo and a number of psychological theories have briefly been treated. Also some general theories concerning mate selection have been dealt with. In the final part of this chapter mating and dating behaviour and the first meeting have been discussed. With regard to mating and dating behaviour the matter of marriage bureaus (in 1981: about 9.000 candidates registered at bona fide bureaus) has also been investigated and so has the phenomenon of marriage advertisements. With regard to the first meeting, the geographic propinquity has been treated next to the cause of this meeting.
On setting up the inquiry (chapter 2) three conditions had to be fulfilled:
a. questioning of the marriage partners has to happen in such a way that mutual influencing was avoided as much as possible; b. couples from the marriage cohorts 1972, 1973, 1974 and 1975 had to be questioned (field survey March 1976);
c. questioning of the parents of the marriage partners who had been asked in the first place, had to be possible (field survey April 1976).
All this resulted in two field surveys: the mate selection re search of people married in the period 1972-1975 and the research of their parents. Regarding the population first mentioned, representativeness has been pursued. It will be clear that this could not be the case with regard to the population of the parents and the parents-in-law (effects of demographic drop out, etc.). Concerning the people married in the period 1972-1975 740 persons were questioned (370 couples). Though the number of refusals etc. was rather high (35%) this population appeared to be representative for the period 1972-1975. These married people were asked to give the addresses of their parents. Altogether 493 addresses were given. In all 746 of the parents (373 couples) were questioned. For this population the percentage of refusals was 24. The population of the parents consisted of the following part populations: parents and parents-in-law 204; parents of man only 88; parents of women only 80 (one interview could not be used). The possibility existed to connect the population of the parents directly with the population of the children. From the trial-interviews it ap peared that the questions put to the children could not entirely be repeated with regard to the parents. It appeared that the factor time caused disturbances here.
In the third, fourth and fifth chapter a description respectively a test of the hypotheses of mate selection has been dealt with. The most important conclusions can be summarized as follows.
In the seventies young people started to meet each other in a more informal way. In many fields the separation of the sexes had come to an end. The classical meeting places (fair, public ball, carnival, parties and family festivities) became less important. The youngsters did not need to wait for a special occasion. It became part of the youth culture to visit dancing halls or a pop-concert together with boy- and girl-friends and that they spent their leisure time together. Therefore it was no wonder that 60% could not mention a direct setting for their first meeting. During the past decades integration took place in a number of fields. Because of means of transport of their own the young people have become more mobile. Next to that the level of consumption has also played a part at mate selection. We have been able to determine that mate-selection has taken place within the leisure setting. In former days it was no ex ception that one had to save up for months to join the carni val of fair successfully. It now appeared to be possible to take part in the extensive "recreation culture" without saving up.
With regard to the mating and dating behaviour of those que tioned the following could be concluded:
- the youngest generation has not been educated separately according to sex;
- in the recreational field the youngest generation has strongly mixed with each other (according to age and sex);
- in financial respect the youngest generation has become more independant.
From the comparison between the generations it appeared that both had to do with rules, orders and prohibitions of their parents. The degree to which, however, differed strongly. The parents were raised very strictly by their parents. For that matter, girls were tethered by a shorter rope than boys. Also the younger generation had to do with rules. Their parents too were stricter for their daughters than for their sons. One should not consider the setting of rules and changes of them an isolated phenomenon. Here too more general trends are under discussion, such as developments within the family, the grea ter independence, also in the economic field, and the indivi dualized understanding of marriage in society.
Also with regard to the degree to which homogamy occurred, differences between the generations can be mentioned. The generation of the parents more often married equals with regard to educational level than the young couples did. From the Dutch pattern of nuptiality it appeared that, regarding the age of marriage, an adaption to the West European pattern of nuptiality has taken place (people marry at a younger age). It also appeared that the differences in age between men and women have decreased.
With regard to religious denomination changes have been considerable. Secularization and backsliding have also had a great influence on the field of mate selection. With the younger couples homogamy after religious denomination occurred less frequently than with their parents. From the research it has become clear that, apart from the members of the reformed churches, all communions have lost members, not in particular because of mixed marriages but because of mass secularization. From testing the hypotheses (see annexe) it appeared that, in general, men were more active than women during the period of mate selection. Homogamy still appeared to be characteristic. However, from comparing the generations it appeared that homogamy occurred more frequently with the older generation.
This could partly be ascribed to demographic factors (duration of marriage, mortality, divorces) but also to social developments which had found an echo within the families (family and marriage being based on economic agreements less than in former days, the authority of parents with respect to children has decreased). Apart from differences between men and women there appeared to be resemblances too. In general it appeared that boys did not differ from girls with regard to their conduct towards their parents at conflicts etc. and concerning liberties they thought they could permit themselves. This may point to the influence of the emancipation movement on female youngsters in the Netherlands. Ultimately it appeared that the presence of homogamy or not, did not cause problems between parents and children. This may mean that pluriformity and mobility are generally accepted in Dutch society. However, a different explanation is also possible. Between parents and children conflicts are evaded or got round. As for that it is characteristic of many young couples who were married in church (this perhaps being one of the most important reasons that the parents were satisfied) that they withdrew from their religious duties afterwards.
The most important recommendation towards policy is that in the near future policy makers have to reckon with demographic and family effects of their decisions.