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.
- 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)
- 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.
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
- Davenport RJ, Boulton J, Schwarz L. (2015) 'Urban inoculation and the decline of smallpox mortality in eighteenth century cities - a reply to Razzell', Economic History Review (online early view)
- Boulton, J, and Davenport, RJ. (2015) 'Few deaths before baptism: clerical policy, private baptism and the registration of births in Georgian Westminster: a paradox resolved' Local Population Studies, 94(1): 28-47
- Davenport RJ (2013) 'Year of birth effects in the historical decline of tuberculosis mortality: a reconsideration', PLOS ONE 10.1371/journal.pone.0081797
- Boulton J, Davenport R, Schwarz L. (2013) '"These ANTE-CHAMBERS OF THE GRAVE"? Mortality, medicine, and the workhouse in Georgian London, 1725-1824', in J. Reinarz & L. Schwarz (eds) Medicine and the Workhouse (University of Rochester Press):58-85
- Davenport R, Boulton J, Schwarz L. (2011) ' The decline of adult smallpox in eighteenth-century London'. Economic History Review, 64(4): 1289-1314
- Davenport, RJ. 'The first stage of the epidemiological transition in British cities: a comparison of infant mortality in Manchester and London, 1750-1820'
- Davenport RJ, Boulton J & Black J. Infant mortality by social status in Georgian London (https://researchoutcomes.rcuk.ac.uk/grants/RES-062-23-3221/details)
- Davenport RJ, Boulton J, Black J 'Neonatal and maternal mortality in the workhouse of St. Martin in the Fields, 1725-1824'
- Davenport RJ 'The relationship between stillbirth and early neonatal mortality: evidence from eighteenth century London '
- Davenport RJ, Boulton J, Schwarz L. ' Infant and young adult mortality in London's West End, 1750-1824'