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Emergency Relief during Europe's Famine of 1817 Anticipated Responses to Today's Humanitarian Disasters


  • Patrick Webb


Humanitarian professionals continue to seek best practice guidelines for famine relief. Many emergency interventions in developing countries draw on recent lessons from the 20th century, but attention has also been paid to historical experiences such as the 19th century evolution of India’s Famine Codes and responses to Ireland’s famine of the 1840s. This article goes further back in time to examine public responses to the pan-European famine of 1816/17. It finds that many of the experimental actions set in place at that time contributed to a growing public acceptance of the role of government action in times of crisis, while establishing a variety of viable approaches that continue to be used today.

Suggested Citation

  • Patrick Webb, 2002. "Emergency Relief during Europe's Famine of 1817 Anticipated Responses to Today's Humanitarian Disasters," Working Papers in Food Policy and Nutrition 14, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:fsn:wpaper:14

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Post, John D., 1974. "A Study in Meteorological and Trade Cycle History: The Economic Crisis Following the Napoleonic Wars," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 34(02), pages 315-349, June.
    2. John D. Post, 1976. "Famine, Mortality, and Epidemic Disease in the Process of Modernization," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 29(1), pages 14-37, February.
    3. M. W. Flinn, 1961. "The Poor Employment Act of 1817," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 14(1), pages 82-92, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cormac Ó Gráda, 2007. "Making Famine History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(1), pages 5-38, March.

    More about this item


    famine; history; europe; public action;

    JEL classification:

    • N01 - Economic History - - General - - - Development of the Discipline: Historiographical; Sources and Methods
    • O19 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy


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