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Death and Life in a Colonial Immigrant City: A Demographic Analysis of Philadelphia


  • Smith, Billy G.


This study analyzes the demographic characteristics of a previously neglected area in colonial America—the urban center. Growth, birth, and death rates in Philadelphia between 1720 and 1775 are estimated using a variety of sources. Immigration, smallpox, economic vacillations, and a skewed age structure are attributed primary responsibility in determining the level of and changes in Philadelphia's vital rates. The elevated level of these rates is evident in a comparison with vital rates in Andover and Boston, Massachusetts, and Nottingham, England.

Suggested Citation

  • Smith, Billy G., 1977. "Death and Life in a Colonial Immigrant City: A Demographic Analysis of Philadelphia," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 37(4), pages 863-889, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:37:y:1977:i:04:p:863-889_09

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    Cited by:

    1. Grubb, Farley, 2004. "The circulating medium of exchange in colonial Pennsylvania, 1729-1775: new estimates of monetary composition, performance, and economic growth," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 329-360, October.

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