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Romola Davenport BA, BA, MSc PhD

Romola Davenport BA, BA, MSc PhD

Senior Research Associate, Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure

Historical demographer and historical geographer interested in mortality, urbanisation and migration, particularly the long-run epidemiological consequences of urbanisation and rural-urban migration.

Biography

Career

  • 1998-2000: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Plant Sciences, Cambridge
  • 1998-2001: Junior Research Fellow, Newnham College Cambridge
  • 2000-2005: Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow
  • 2001-2006: Senior Research Fellow, Newnham College Cambridge
  • 2006-2007: Research Fellow, Oxford Institute of Ageing
  • 2007-08: Departmental Lecturer in Demography, Institute of Human Sciences, University of Oxford (part-time)
  • 2008-2010: Visiting Research Fellow, Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure (part-time)
  • 2010-2011: Research Associate, Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure (Wellcome Generation to Reproduction project) (part-time)
  • 2011- : Senior Research Associate, Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure (part-time)

Qualifications

  • B.A. (History) University of New South Wales
  • B.A. (Hons, Botany) University of Adelaide
  • Ph.D. (Botany) University of Cambridge
  • M.Sc. (Demography) London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Research

My early research as a plant physiologist was motivated by a concern with population growth and food security. However the slowing of global population growth rates and a dawning awareness of the complexity of population-resource interactions led me to retrain as a demographer, a career that combined more effectively my interests in history and geography as well as biology.

My current research addresses a key question in demography: the causes of the 'Mortality Revolution' that has led over the last three centuries to a rise in global life expectancy from around 30 years to over 70 years today. This revolution began in north-west European societies in the eighteenth century and was associated particularly with a dramatic fall in death rates in urban populations. This improvement in urban death rates was a crucial pre-requisite for the urbanisation and industrialisation that ensued and that has now become a global phenomenon. Despite the disamenities of urban slums today average life expectancies are generally higher in urban than in rural populations, a dramatic reversal of historical norms. The research programme has four main themes (see 'Research projects' at right):

  • Investigation of the roles of urban centres as drivers of epidemiological change in north-western Europe, including analysis of the spatial patterning and dynamics of mortality in Britain across the settlement hierarchy and typology and the epidemiological consequences of migration patterns 1600-1945
  • Trends in mortality in 'new' industrial and manufacturing cities during the Industrial Revolution
  • The timing and causes of the emergence of differences in mortality by social status
  • The geographies of smallpox and tuberculosis mortality in Britain with particular attention to the consequences of rural-urban and return migration

Publications

In print

Working papers