Living Standards and Mortality Since the Middle Ages

31 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2010

See all articles by Morgan Kelly

Morgan Kelly

University College Dublin (UCD) - Department of Economics

Cormac O'Grada

University College Dublin (UCD)

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Date Written: September 24, 2010

Abstract

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 harvests. Looking at a large sample of parishes after 1540, we find that the positive check had weakened considerably by 1650 even though real wages were falling, 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 played a role in breaking the link between harvest failure and mass mortality.

Keywords: economic growth, Malthus, demography, economic history

JEL Classification: N33

Suggested Citation

Kelly, Morgan and O'Grada, Cormac, Living Standards and Mortality Since the Middle Ages (September 24, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1681903 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1681903

Morgan Kelly

University College Dublin (UCD) - Department of Economics ( email )

Belfield
Dublin 4, Dublin 4
Ireland
+353 1 706 8611 (Phone)
+353 1 283 0068 (Fax)

Cormac O'Grada (Contact Author)

University College Dublin (UCD) ( email )

Dublin 4, 4
Ireland

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