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Population Histories in Context: Past achievements and future directions

A conference to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure

Downing College, Cambridge, UK, 16-18 September 2014

Conference programme

There will be six themed sessions, as below.

For further information please contact Richard Smith ( or Sophy Arulanantham (

Tuesday 16 September

Session 1: 1.30-3.30pm

Locating the industrial revolution: population and economy, Malthus and beyond

  • Leigh Shaw-Taylor (University of Cambridge) 'The occupational structure of England and Wales before, during and after the escape from Malthusian constraints'
  • Cormac O'Grada (University College Dublin) 'Ready for revolution: Nutrition and human capital in Britain before 1800'
  • Nick Crafts (University of Warwick) 'Productivity growth over the industrial revolution: Some further thoughts'
  • Commentator: Tony Wrigley (University of Cambridge)

Coffee/tea break: 3.30-4.00pm

Session 2: 4.00-6.00pm

Life expectancy: levels and trends with particular reference to the mortality of large urban centres and the disappearance of the 'urban penalty'

  • Walter Scheidel (Stanford University, USA) 'Death and the city: ancient Rome and beyond'
  • Romola Davenport (University of Cambridge) 'The first stages of the epidemiological transition in British cities: a comparison of Manchester and London, 1750-1820'
  • Jan de Vries (University of California, Berkeley) 'Urban Historical Demography: Graveyards, Migrants and the Demographic Transition'
  • Commentator: John Landers (Hertford College, University of Oxford)

Cafeteria dinner: 7.00pm

Wednesday 17 September

Session 3: 10.00am-12.00pm

Household formation systems and their social and economic correlates

  • Sarah Carmichael and Jan Luiten van Zanden (University of Utrecht, Netherlands) 'How unique was the European Marriage Pattern? Towards an ethnographic understanding of the EMP'
  • Antoinette Fauve-Chamoux (EHESS, Paris) 'The European rural stem family as a determinant of illegitimacy'
  • Keith Snell (University of Leicester) 'Loneliness in history: exploring 'solitaries' and 'singletons''
  • Commentator: Michael Anderson (University of Edinburgh)

Lunch: 12.00-1.15pm

Session 4: 1.15-3.15pm

Marital fertility and celibacy before, during and after the demographic transition

  • Alice Reid (University of Cambridge) 'The British fertility decline: A view from the British censuses 1861-1911'
  • Simon Szreter (University of Cambridge) 'Fertility and venereal disease in England's demographic history - an unexamined dimension'
  • David Reher (Complutense University, Madrid) and Miguel Requena (UNED, Madrid) 'Revisiting mid-twentieth century fertility shifts from a global perspective'
  • Commentator: Ron Lesthaeghe (Vrije Universiteit, Brussels)

Coffee/tea break: 3.15-3.45pm

Session 5: 3.45-5.45pm

Ageing, maximal life extent and social and economic correlates

  • Jim Oeppen (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany) 'North-West European exceptional longevity in a global context 1550-2000'
  • Ron Lee (University of California, Berkley, USA) 'Population ageing and systems of intergenerational transfers'
  • Mike Murphy (LSE) and Emily Grundy (LSE) 'Living with children and subjective well-being among older widowed people in Europe'

Conference dinner: Reception 7.00pm. Dinner 7.30pm

Thursday 18 September

Session 6a: 9.30-11.00am

The West and the Rest

  • Tim Dyson (LSE) 'Historical Demographic Regimes and Adjustment Mechanisms in the Indian Subcontinent'
  • Zhongwei Zhao (Australian National University, Canberra) 'Fertility in historical China: Recent findings and their theoretical implications'
  • Osamu Saito (Hitotsubashi University, Japan) 'Demographic Regimes in the Asian Past'

Coffee/tea break: 11.00-11.30am

Session 6b: 11.30am-1.00pm

The West and the Rest

  • Tommy Bengtsson (Lund University, Sweden) 'Population and living standards in Asia and Europe, 1700-1900. A micro-level approach by the Eurasian Population and Family History Project'
  • Jack Goldstone (George Mason University, USA) 'Quantity versus Quality: Population and Technological Growth in the "Great Divergence"'
  • Commentator: Richard Smith (University of Cambridge)

Cafeteria lunch: 1.00pm

Generously supported by the Galton Institute, the Economic History Society, Wellcome Trust, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Faculty of History, University of Cambridge, British Society for Population Studies and the Population Investigation Committee.


The Bookings page gives full details of how to book.