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Living standards and mortality since the middle ages

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  • Morgan Kelly
  • Cormac Ó Gráda

Abstract

type="main"> 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 living standards. Looking at a large sample of parishes after 1540, we find that the positive check had weakened considerably by 1650 even though living standards were static at best, 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 may have played a role in breaking the link between harvest failure and mass mortality.

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  • Morgan Kelly & Cormac Ó Gráda, 2014. "Living standards and mortality since the middle ages," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(2), pages 358-381, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ehsrev:v:67:y:2014:i:2:p:358-381
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/1468-0289.12023
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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 21:49:00
    2. Two New Papers On Malthus
      by Mark McG in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2010-12-06 00:39:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Stefan Houpt & Juan Carlos Rojo Cagigal, 2012. "Hunger in Hell’s Kitchen: real wages and deprivation in Spain’s early industrialisation - the Bilbao Estuary, 1914-35," Working Papers 12025, Economic History Society.
    2. Cormac Ó Gráda, 2018. "The Next World and the New World: Relief, Migration, and the Great Irish Famine," Working Papers 201821, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    3. Nico Voigtl?nder & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2013. "How the West "Invented" Fertility Restriction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(6), pages 2227-2264, October.
    4. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2011. "Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2003-2041, August.
    5. Mokyr, Joel, 2018. "The past and the future of innovation: Some lessons from economic history," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 13-26.
    6. Ohler, Johann, 2024. "Malthus in Germany? Fertility, Mortality, and Status in pre-industrial Germany 1600-1850," MPRA Paper 120451, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Cormac Ó Gráda, 2016. "“The Last, the Most Dreadful Resource of Nature”: Economic-Historical Reflections on Famine," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 44(2), pages 225-241, June.
    8. Peter Sandholt Jensen & Maja Uhre Pedersen & Cristina Victoria Radu & Paul Richard Sharp, 2020. "Arresting the Sword of Damocles: Dating the Transition to the Post-Malthusian Era in Denmark," Working Papers 0182, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    9. Kelly, Morgan & Ó Gráda, Cormac, 2012. "The Preventive Check in Medieval and Preindustrial England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(4), pages 1015-1035, December.
    10. Sara LaLumia & James Sallee, 2013. "The value of honesty: empirical estimates from the case of the missing children," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 20(2), pages 192-224, April.
    11. Alan Fernihough & Cormac Ó Gráda, 2018. "Population and Poverty in Ireland on the Eve of the Great Famine," Working Papers 201820, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    12. Nicholas Crafts & Terence C Mills, 2022. "Considering the Counterfactual: Real Wages in the First Industrial Revolution," The Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 132(645), pages 1994-2006.
    13. Crafts, Nicholas & Mills, Terence, 2020. "The Race between Population and Technology: Real wages in the First Industrial Revolution," CEPR Discussion Papers 15174, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    14. Alan Fernihough, 2013. "Malthusian Dynamics in a Diverging Europe: Northern Italy, 1650–1881," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 50(1), pages 311-332, February.
    15. Cummins, Neil, 2017. "Lifespans of the European elite, 800–1800," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 83576, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    16. Nils‐Petter Lagerlöf, 2019. "Understanding Per‐Capita Income Growth In Preindustrial Europe," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 60(1), pages 219-240, February.
    17. Alexander Rathke & Samad Sarferaz, 2014. "Malthus and the Industrial Revolution," KOF Working papers 14-351, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
    18. Jayne E. Bisman, 2012. "Budgeting for famine in Tudor England, 1527--1528: social and policy perspectives," Accounting History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(2), pages 105-126, July.
    19. Alexander Rathke & Samad Sarferaz, 2014. "Malthus and the Industrial Revolution: Evidence from a Time-Varying VAR," CESifo Working Paper Series 4667, CESifo.
    20. Martin Ravallion, 2013. "The Idea of Antipoverty Policy," NBER Working Papers 19210, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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