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Living Standards and Mortality since the Middle Ages

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Author Info

  • Morgan Kelly

    (University College Dublin)

  • Cormac Ó Gráda

    (University College Dublin)

Abstract

Existing studies find little connection between living standards and mortality in England, but go back only to the sixteenth century. Using new data on inheritances, we extend estimates of mortality back to the mid-thirteenth century and find, by contrast, that deaths from unfree tenants to the nobility were strongly affected by harvests. Looking at a large sample of parishes after 1540, we find that the positive check had weakened considerably by 1650 even though real wages were falling, but persisted in London for another century despite its higher wages. In both cases the disappearance of the positive check coincided with the introduction of systematic poor relief, suggesting that government action played a role in breaking the link between harvest failure and mass mortality.

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File URL: http://www.ucd.ie/t4cms/wp10_26.pdf
File Function: First version, 2010
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by School Of Economics, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 201026.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: 28 Oct 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:201026

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Keywords: economic growth; economic history; Malthus; demography;

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  1. Michael Anderson & Ronald Lee, 2002. "Malthus in state space: Macro economic-demographic relations in English history, 1540 to 1870," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 195-220.
  2. Robert W. Fogel, 1989. "Second Thoughts on the European Escape from Hunger: Famines, Price Elasticities, Entitlements, Chronic Malnutrition, and Mortality Rates," NBER Historical Working Papers 0001, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Was Malthus wrong about mortality?
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2010-11-09 15:49:00
  2. Two New Papers On Malthus
    by Mark McG in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2010-12-05 18:39:00
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Cited by:
  1. Alan Fernihough, 2013. "Malthusian Dynamics in a Diverging Europe: Northern Italy, 1650–1881," Demography, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 311-332, February.

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