No Room to Live: Urban Overcrowding in Edwardian Britain

27 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2009

See all articles by Ian Gazeley

Ian Gazeley

University of Sussex

Andrew Newell

University of Sussex - School of Social Sciences & Cultural Studies; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

We study the extent of overcrowding amongst British urban working families in the early 1900s and find major regional differences. In particular, a much greater proportion of households in urban Scotland were overcrowded than in the rest of Britain and Ireland. We investigate the causes of this spatial distribution of overcrowding and find that prices, especially rents and wages are the proximate causes of the phenomenon. In large cities, ports and cities specialising in old heavy industries high rent and overcrowding are more prevalent. Within cities, but not between cities, variations in infant mortality are clearly correlated with measures of overcrowding. All the findings are consistent with a core-periphery view of urban households choosing the location and size of housing to balance the health risks of overcrowding against the risks associated with lower and less regular incomes in places where rents are lower.

Keywords: poverty, rent, overcrowding, Scotland, 1904, infant mortality, Bowley

JEL Classification: I10, N33, R12

Suggested Citation

Gazeley, Ian and Newell, Andrew T., No Room to Live: Urban Overcrowding in Edwardian Britain. IZA Discussion Paper No. 4209. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1423325

Ian Gazeley (Contact Author)

University of Sussex ( email )

Sussex House
Falmer
Brighton, Sussex BNI 9RH
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/history/profile985.html

Andrew T. Newell

University of Sussex - School of Social Sciences & Cultural Studies ( email )

Falmer, Brightonm BN1 9QN
United Kingdom
+44 (0)1273 606755 (Phone)
+44 (0)1273 673563 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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