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About the Cambridge Group

The Cambridge Group for the History of Population & Social Structure was founded in 1964. In the fifty years since then, members of the Group have made a spectacular series of discipline-transforming contributions to social science history. These include work on historical demography and household structure, on the interdependence of these elements with welfare systems, and on occupational structure.

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The occupational structure of Britain 1379-1911

This research program directed by Leigh Shaw-Taylor and Tony Wrigley aims ultimately to reconstruct the evolution of the occupational structure of Britain from the late medieval period down to the early twentieth century. The project has been designated as a British Academy Research project since 2007 (renewed for a further five years in 2016).

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Population

Our research seeks to understand the demographic pressures and choices people in past societies experienced, from the medieval period to the recent past. We focus primarily on the population history of the world's first industrial nation, Britain, understood within the context of European and global developments.

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Economy

Radical changes in the form and location of economic activity, income and wealth have occurred in Britain and Europe in various phases from Medieval times up to the present. These affected personal economic opportunity, the occupational choices of the population, their welfare, mobility, skills, consumption and demographic structures. These in turn influenced the development of business growth and innovation, and the economies of localities, regions and nations.

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Society

Welfare systems both past and present rely upon a combination of support supplied by kin and charity, either legally enforced or voluntary. This research theme is concerned with exploring the demographic, legal and economic underpinnings of past welfare regimes in order to throw light on the different strategies which societies have adopted to support their most vulnerable members. More broadly, this research theme encompasses the economic and social implications of demographic change.

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Census 2021 public engagement podcasts

19th March, 2021

 

Alice Reid and Sophy Arulanantham from the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure have teamed up with Year 8s from South Wales to co-produce census-related public engagement material. Check out our podcasts in which year 8s interview census experts. This public engagement project is funded by the AHRC and ESRC in conjunction with The National Archives and the Office for National Statistics.

Engaging the public in the Census 2021

26th February, 2021

 

Dr Alice Reid and colleagues have been awarded one of 15 projects by the AHRC/ESRC to engage the public in Census 2021. This project will inform KS3 students about the relevance of the Census, provide insight into being a data-driven social scientist and enhance the school curriculum. Using Census returns from the early nineteenth century to the present day, students from South Wales state schools will co-produce school resources that explore aspects of Census taking and Census data.

(When) are you going to have children?

3rd December, 2020

 

An article in the new issue of the Cambridge University research magazine, Horizons, explores decisions about if and when to have children, considering what influences come into play and how these have changed over time. The article brings together research from across the University, featuring Campop member Dr Alice Reid.

The Changing Geography of Ill Health

26th November, 2020

 

The Chief Medical Officer of the UK Chris Whitty's recent lecture on 25th November on the Geography of Ill Health will be of interest to all geographers, but it is particularly pleasing to see it featuring some maps from our interactive online atlas, www.PopulationsPast.org. Whitty uses the maps to illustrate the fact that the areas with particularly high infant mortality in the past still have high levels of ill health today.

Height and health in late eighteenth-century England

1st October, 2020

 

A new paper by CamPop members Hanna Jaadla, Leigh Shaw-Taylor and Romola Davenport, published Online Early in Population Studies, analyses a very unusual sample of representative data on adult male heights, recorded in militia ballot lists in the county of Dorset in the years 1798 and 1799.

The paper confirms the tall stature of English men relative to other European populations in this period, and reports evidence of a positive social gradient in height. However the gradient was small, and labourers were on average only 2 cm shorter than farmers and gentlemen.

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There are no seminars scheduled at present, but you can view the archive of previous seminars.