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Demography, health and wellbeing

Research in this sub-theme investigates the spatial, social and temporal differentials in migration, fertility, mortality, health and wellbeing. The influences we consider include individuals' characteristics as well as local, regional and national factors such as the physical environment, health services, institutions, and the influence of culture on behaviour. Our research ranges from the historical demography of medieval and early modern Britain, through substantial work on the late nineteenth century, to obesity in present-day London and early marriage in Nepal. We have a strong focus on demographic, statistical and GIS techniques, but qualitative methods are also important including archival, textual, and interview research.

Research projects

Research projects currently being undertaken on this theme include:

Migration, Urbanisation and Socio-Economic Change, England and Wales 1851-1911

Migration, Urbanisation and Socio-Economic Change, England and Wales 1851-1911

Migration has long been recognised as an important driver of economic, social and demographic change. It is both a response to, and a determinant of wage rates, it acts as a vector of disease and it shapes our sense of place. Yet a paucity of data has meant that a comprehensive analysis of internal migration in nineteenth-century England and Wales has not been possible. The recent release of the Integrated Census Microdata (I-CeM) database - containing approximately 160 million individual-level returns - means that the given place of birth of the entire population as reported in the 1851-1911 censuses of England and Wales can be used to map millions of lifetime migration paths. By analysing the changing relationship between migration, wages, the transport network and the socio-economic context, it will be possible to understand both the determinants of migration and the effect it had on the communities migrants exited and entered over a sixty year period.

Migration, Mortality and Medicalisation: investigating the long-run epidemiological consequences of urbanisation 1600 - 1945

Migration, Mortality and Medicalisation: investigating the long-run epidemiological consequences of urbanisation 1600 - 1945

How and when did towns and cities transform from urban graveyards into promoters of health between 1600 and 1945?

An Atlas of Fertility Decline in England and Wales

An Atlas of Fertility Decline in England and Wales

How will a new time series of age-specific fertility measured across geographical and social space inform our understanding of the late nineteenth century demographic transition?

Drivers of entrepreneurship and small business

Drivers of entrepreneurship and small business

This research programme aims to reconstruct the British business population mainly for the 19th and early 20th centuries, and also through to the present day. It will also provide large scale 'samples' of entrepreneurs and small businesses that can be used in statistical analysis: for individuals, and for places (parishes, sub-districts, urban units, counties and upwards).

Birth attendants and birth outcomes in the Victorian and Edwardian eras

Birth attendants and birth outcomes in the Victorian and Edwardian eras

Did doctors or midwives achieve the best health outcomes for mothers at the turn of the twentieth century, and can regional differences in the number of trained midwives explain striking variations in the geography of maternal mortality?

Agrarian Change in an Industrializing County: Staffordshire, 1650-1750

Agrarian Change in an Industrializing County: Staffordshire, 1650-1750

The project examines aspects of agrarian change, early industrial change and occupational change in the county of Staffordshire in the early modern period. It addresses the dearth of work on pastoral regions as opposed to the much studied arable eastern and southern areas of England. Staffordshire is renowned for its precocious early population growth, and early industrial development in metal-wares, pottery and glass stemming from its varied rich mineral reserves of, amongst others, coal, clay, ironstone and limestone. It is a classic area of by-employment where, according to Thirsk, farming households took up domestic manufacture when work was slack.

An empirical base for understanding the early phase of the epidemiological transition: Short-term and spatial variations in infectious disease mortality in England 1600-1837

An empirical base for understanding the early phase of the epidemiological transition: Short-term and spatial variations in infectious disease mortality in England 1600-1837

As new industrial towns and transport networks developed, did short-term fluctuations in mortality converge across different locations? How were settlements of different sizes affected by infectious diseases?

Housing, mobility and the measurement of child health from the 1911 Irish census

Housing, mobility and the measurement of child health from the 1911 Irish census

Did Belfast families who moved house most often suffer an infant and child mortality penalty, during the first decade of the twentieth century?

Doctors, deaths, diagnoses and data: a comparative study of the medical certification of cause of death in nineteenth century Scotland

Doctors, deaths, diagnoses and data: a comparative study of the medical certification of cause of death in nineteenth century Scotland

Did certain doctors working in Victorian Scotland favour particular diagnoses over others, and how did their diagnoses differ from those of lay persons? What are the implications for existing interpretations of changes in causes of death over time, in urban and rural areas?

Determining the Demography of Victorian Scotland through Record Linkage

Determining the Demography of Victorian Scotland through Record Linkage

What can be learned about changes in Scottish demographic behaviour from linking five decades of Census records to births and deaths?

Malthus and welfare revisited

Malthus and welfare revisited

Did poor relief in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when payments were increased according to family size, encourage early and improvident marriage and thereby undermine the preventive check and lead to excessive population growth? Were there regional contrasts in population growth rates between areas that paid outdoor relief and those where welfare was provided in workhouses?

History of entrepreneurship, and SME policy

History of entrepreneurship, and SME policy

These projects led by Prof Robert Bennett involve two streams: one focusing on small business and entrepreneurship from the nineteenth century to the present; a second stream focusing on small business and entrepreneurship support policies.

The depopulation of Melanesia: an assessment of epidemiological versus psychological factors, and the work of W.H.R. Rivers

The depopulation of Melanesia: an assessment of epidemiological versus psychological factors, and the work of W.H.R. Rivers

Melanesia was one of the last regions of the world to be affected by the process of global integration that, arguably, began in 1492 with European colonisation of the New World. The project involves an attempt to reconstitute the demographic statistics generated for Simbo Island by William Rivers, using his own primary sources, in order to test his suggestion that rapid population decline was more the result of declining fertility rather than catastrophic mortality from introduced disease.

Earlier projects