skip to primary navigation skip to content

Department of Geography


The European Network for the Comparative History of Population Geography and Occupational Structure 1500-1900 (ENCHPOPGOS)

The European Network for the Comparative History of Population Geography and Occupational Structure 1500-1900 (ENCHPOPGOS)

We launched the European Network for the Comparative History of Population Geography and Occupational Structure 1500-1900 in early 2017. The underlying aim of ENCHPOPGOS is to improve our understanding of Europe's long-run economic history, and the origins of modern economic growth. Its goals are to (i) create a long-lasting network of scholars committed to working together within an agreed methodological framework (ii) precipitate multiple follow-on projects generating robust harmonized datasets on occupational structure and population geography at the local, regional and national levels 1500-1900, for as many European regions as possible and create a quantitative data-infrastructure, scalable to any spatial scale from local communities, to regions, polities and beyond.

Economic historians are drowning in detailed local studies and buffeted by contradictory and methodologically problematic international comparisons based on incommensurable national studies. While we have estimates of national aggregates such as GDP per capita and real wages for many countries, we lack a detailed, quantitative and integrated account of European economic development 1500-1900 based on harmonized and robust data available at a sub-national level. ENCHPOPGOS would try to change that by jump-starting projects aimed at creating an integrated set of inter-related datasets that would allow us to trace, in a directly comparable manner, the evolution of Europe's local, regional and national economies over four centuries. The intention is to create a quantitative scalable framework for European economic history to which more particularistic studies could fitted. Long-term economic development is closely connected with two major interrelated structural changes which the historic record allows us to document in considerable detail over many centuries. First, as economic development proceeds, population tends to concentrate in towns and industrial or proto-industrial regions. Second, individuals tend to become more specialized while localities, regions and nations experience shifts in occupational structure away from an early predominance of agricultural employment

The network is co-ordinated by Dr Leigh Shaw-Taylor and Dr Alexis Litvine [], both at the University of Cambridge.

The inaugural meeting of the ENCHPOPGOS network will take place at Robinson College, Cambridge, on 25th-27th September.

Members of the network

  • Austria (Michael Pammer, University of Linz)
  • Belgium (Erik Buyst, KU Leuven)
  • Czech Republic (Stanislav Knob, University of Ostrava, Czech Republic)
  • England and Wales (Leigh Shaw-Taylor and others at the University of Cambridge)
  • France (Alexis Litvine, University of Cambridge; Isabelle Seguy INED, Paris).
  • Ireland (Jason Begley, University of Coventry; Frank Geary; Tom Stark)
  • Italy (Guido Alfani, Bocconi Univeristy, Milan)
  • Ottoman Territories (Erdem Kabadayi and others, Koc University, Istanbul)
  • Poland (Piotr Koryś, Maciej Bukowski, Maciej Tyminski , Univeristy of Warsaw)
  • Spain (Carmen Sarasua, Autonomous University of Spain; Frán Beltran, University of Cambridge; Alfonso Díez Minguela, University of Valencia; Julio Martinez Galarraga, Univeristy of Valencia)
  • Sweden (Fredrick Sangren, Umea University)

We would welcome new members for the network, especially (but not only) those working or wishing to work on regions of Europe we do not presently cover.


Population density and sectoral evolution of labour force in England, Wales, Belgium and the Netherlands

Picture Credit: Maître du Boccace de Genève [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons