Living Standards and Plague in London, 1560–1665

32 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2016

See all articles by Neil Cummins

Neil Cummins

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economic History

Morgan Kelly

University College Dublin (UCD) - Department of Economics

Cormac O. Grada

University College Dublin (UCD) - Department of Economics

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Date Written: February 2016

Abstract

This article uses individual records of 930,000 burials and 630,000 baptisms to reconstruct the spatial and temporal patterns of birth and death in London from 1560 to 1665, a period dominated by recurrent plague. The plagues of 1563, 1603, 1625, and 1665 appear of roughly equal magnitude, with deaths running at five to six times their usual rate, but the impact on wealthier central parishes falls markedly through time. Tracking the weekly spread of plague, we find no evidence that plague emerged first in the docks, and in many cases elevated mortality emerges first in the poor northern suburbs. Looking at the seasonal pattern of mortality, we find that the characteristic autumn spike associated with plague continued into the early 1700s. Natural increase improved as smaller crises disappeared after 1590, but fewer than half of those born survived childhood.

Suggested Citation

Cummins, Neil and Kelly, Morgan and Grada, Cormac O., Living Standards and Plague in London, 1560–1665 (February 2016). The Economic History Review, Vol. 69, Issue 1, pp. 3-34, 2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2716817 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ehr.12098

Neil Cummins (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economic History ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.neilcummins.com

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

University College Dublin (UCD) - Department of Economics

Belfield
Dublin 4, Dublin 4
Ireland

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