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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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Nils-Petter Lagerlof, 2016. "Understanding per-capita income growth in preindustrial Europe," 2016 Meeting Papers 667, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Martin Ravallion, 2013. "The Idea of Antipoverty Policy," NBER Working Papers 19210, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    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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