This study analyses succession patterns using a population register from a village in Northeastern Japan between 1720 and 1870. It was observed that natural sons or adopted sons/sons-in-law (if heads had no sons) inherited upon the retirement or death of the household head. Women had a chance to succeed only when heads died or departed leaving no male heirs. Headship by a woman was either a temporary replacement until the next heir was determined or a prelude to household discontinuation. The latter was particularly likely if the household held no land. A link between demographic conditions and family strategy is also considered, contrasting succession patterns between Northeastern and Central Japan.
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