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As in so many other parts of Europe, the northern Italian community of Casalecchio experienced massive social and economic changes in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Characterized by sharecropping agriculture and large, complex family households, the community faced the effects of industrialization, urbanization and dramatic political changes. The book represents an unprecedented interdisciplinary effort to discover how changes in family life and demographic behaviour actually occurred in this crucial period, and how people's lives were affected. The book takes issue with a number of influential demographic and sociological theories dealing with the evolution of the western family and the factors responsible for fertility decline.