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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:

Reconstructing a municipal-level GIS for France

Reconstructing a municipal-level GIS for France

The ISTHMME-ED19 project will build the first Historical-GIS capturing all changes in the boundaries of French communes since the Revolution. It combines the strength and expertise of both INED (team led by Isabelle Séguy) and the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure (CAMPOP) based at the University of Cambridge (team led by Max Satchell and Alexis Litvine).

The occupational structure of Britain 1379-1911

The occupational structure of Britain 1379-1911

This research program run by Leigh Shaw-Taylor and Tony Wrigley aims ultimately to reconstruct the evolution of the occupational structure of Britain from the late medieval period down to the late nineteenth century.

International comparative work on occupational structure and population geography

International comparative work on occupational structure and population geography

Following the lead of the Occupational Structure of Britain c.1379-1911 project, several international initiatives are being undertaken to promote international comparative work in the field of occupational structure and population geography.

Fuel transitions in early modern England, 1550-1780

Fuel transitions in early modern England, 1550-1780

This pilot project demonstrates the possibility of building up a much more fine-grained understanding of fuel availability and its significance in early modern England, in a period before the dramatic expansion of coal use in the smelting of iron (predominantly after 1780) and to generate motive power in steam engines.

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.

Historical population geography

Historical population geography

The Occupational Structure of Britain project includes three major sub-projects on population geography undertaken to provide spatially disaggregated population estimates for England and Wales.

Occupational structure

Occupational structure

At the core of the Occupational Structure of Britain project is the attempt to reconstruct, in quantitative terms, the male and female occupational structure of the economy of Britain from the late medieval period down to the outbreak of the First World War. From 1851 both male and female occupations are recorded relatively satisfactorily in the decennial population censuses.

Women's work

Women's work

The Occupational Structure of Britain 1379-1911 programme has concentrated on male occupations because these are relatively easy to locate in the historical record and to accumulate quickly. There is currently very little quantitative data available on women's employment prior to the twentieth century.

Transport, urbanization and economic development in England and Wales c.1670-1911

Transport, urbanization and economic development in England and Wales c.1670-1911

In this project we are taking advantage of the new technological possibilities created by Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to combine the massive body of datasets created by the Occupational Structure of Britain c.1379-1911 project at the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure with a range of new datasets to explore the relationships between improvements in transport infrastructure (navigable rivers, canals, turnpike roads etc), urbanisation, market access, technological change and long-run economic development. Some of our GIS datasets are snapshots of the transport network for single years. For example, Max Satchell, one of the project leaders, has created a map of the road network in 1680 based on John Ogilby's Britannia. Other GIS datasets are dynamic: i.e. they reflect the system as it was in a given calendar year within the dataset date range. Since the 1980s the national income accounting approach has figured prominently in studies of the Industrial Revolution. The significance of the differences in regional growth rates and in the linked changes in occupational structure have received insufficient attention. Recognition of the immense importance of transport change in this context has also suffered. The current project is intended to help to redress the balance. We cannot afford to neglect the differences between places and the ways in which they were connected, if we wish to have a fuller understanding the Industrial Revolution in Britain.

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).

Mortality and epidemiological change in Manchester, 1750-1850

Mortality and epidemiological change in Manchester, 1750-1850

In the new northern industrial conurbation of Manchester, did a fifteen-fold population growth over the century before 1850 impact on survival chances steadily across the period, or only after 1820? What were the underlying causes of the stagnation in life expectancy that England is thought to have experienced during early industrialisation?

Long-run cause of death series for national populations

Long-run cause of death series for national populations

What changes occurred in the level and age structure of cause-specific mortality in the late nineteenth century? An annual cause of death data series for England and Wales 1848-1900 has been compiled to answer this question.

The transformation of the urban epidemiological regime, 1750-1850

The transformation of the urban epidemiological regime, 1750-1850

This transformation of the urban epidemiological regime is the subject of a long-run research project which uses a variety of sources to investigate mortality change in northwest Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Infant mortality by social status in Georgian London

Infant mortality by social status in Georgian London

Were richer children born between 1752 and 1812 in the populous Westminster parish of St Martin-in-the-Fields more likely to die at young ages than poorer children?

Religion and Society in eastern England c. 1710: analysing the Wake visitation returns

Religion and Society in eastern England c. 1710: analysing the Wake visitation returns

This project uses the detailed information in Bishop Wake's pioneering printed questionnaire returns for the diocese of Lincoln (stretching from the Thames to the Humber) to analyse demographic, social and religious structures in the diocese. Apart from providing good population totals for more than 10 per cent of English parishes c.1710, the project will provide a geography of dissent, of educational provision, and even the make possible the tracing of local preacher networks at the hundred level.

The Land Tax in England and Wales 1798 and landownership and tenancy distribution

The Land Tax in England and Wales 1798 and landownership and tenancy distribution

This project aims to provide the earliest accurate figures for the distribution of landownership in Britain, using the national coverage of the Land Tax assessments for 1798, held by the National Archives. The methodology involves the digitisation of the complete set of records, providing facilities for GIS mapping, and nominal data linkage, and using contemporary comparators to compensate for inter-parish liability differences.

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.

The Demography of Early Modern London circa 1550 to 1750

The Demography of Early Modern London circa 1550 to 1750

In a rapidly expanding metropolis where population growth was driven by in-migration, how heavy was the mortality burden on Londoners' children, and what choices did they make when entering marriage and starting a family?

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?

The Occupational Structure of Nineteenth Century Britain

The Occupational Structure of Nineteenth Century Britain

This project is part of a larger ongoing programme of research, The occupational structure of Britain 1379-1911.

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?

Longevity changes and their determinants in England and her European neighbours c.1600-1900

Longevity changes and their determinants in England and her European neighbours c.1600-1900

In the analysis of contemporary adult longevity there has been a shift away from explanations that focus on adult life-style determined risk factors towards an emphasis on biologically programmed influences in utero or in very early infancy. This project uses historic data sets to assess the relevance of the aforementioned approaches under conditions primarily of natural (uncontrolled) fertility and mortality regimes dominated by a high incidence of infectious or epidemic disease.

The geography of crime and disorder: offences, offenders and victimization

The geography of crime and disorder: offences, offenders and victimization

A number of projects fall under this broad heading and currently involve collaboration with colleagues at Cambridge in Geography as well as the Institute of Criminology. The methodological orientation of all this work is quantitative (spatial analysis, spatial modelling and using GIS for data management and display) because research typically uses large police recorded crime datasets.

Geographical epidemiology: air quality and public health

Geographical epidemiology: air quality and public health

This research investigates the importance of air pollution as a risk factor for strokes for coronary heart disease and stroke, by making extensive use of GIS technology and spatial data analysis.

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