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Professor Alice M Reid BA MSc PhD

Professor Alice M Reid BA MSc PhD

Professor of Demography, Director of CAMPOP and Fellow of Churchill College.

Historical demographer, working on fertility, mortality and health in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.



I joined the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure (Campop) as a research assistant in 1992. I then completed my PhD and spent four years as a research fellow at St John's College, Cambridge. I was a Senior Research Associate at Campop from 2003 until 2014, and have been an established member of the Geography Department since 2014.


  • PhD University of Cambridge (1999)
  • MSc London School of Economics (1992)
  • BA University of Oxford (1990)


My research has focused on the social, economic, and environmental influences on infant, early child and maternal mortality, particularly over the course of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Using a wide variety of demographic, statistical and geographical techniques such as indirect demographic estimation, event history techniques, multivariate hazards modeling, logistic modeling and GIS analysis, I have made significant contributions to the understanding of the influences on mortality, the roles of health personnel and the creation and interpretation of data.

My recent research project created new measures of age-specific fertility for small areas and socio-economic groupings in the UK over the course of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century fertility decline. These allow new insights into the social and spatial influences on changes in family building patterns and the mutation of behavioural norms.

Our website, Populations Past, provides an interactive atlas of population and socio-economic indicators for England and Wales 1851-1911.

My new project (2020-2023) extends the previous project to include Scotland, and also draws in more data on mortality and migration for England and Wales as well as Scotland, to develop an integrated geography of the first demographic transition in Great Britain.

Research questions

  • Hazards modelling of the influences on risks of infant and child mortality, including cause-specific mortality.
  • The relative importance of social class and environment in influencing early age mortality.
  • Patterns and prevalence of breast-feeding in early twentieth century England, and how breast-feeding affected mortality and morbidity.
  • Measurement of and variations in maternal mortality.
  • The role of health professionals (doctors, midwives, health visitors) in survival in childbirth, infancy, and early childhood.
  • Health professionals and the registration of causes of death.
  • The influences on stillbirth mortality.
  • Linking and analysis of demographic data.
  • The impact of mobility on the use of retrospective demographic measures.
  • Social and spatial patterns of fertility decline.
  • The effect of migration on fertility and mortality.

Main data sources

  • Anonymised sample of the 1911 'fertility' census.
  • Notifications of Births registers, containing health visitors' records for individual infants up to the age of five.
  • Longitudinal records created from linked censuses and civil registers for Scotland.
  • 1911 and 1901 census enumerators' books for Belfast, and Belfast street directories.
  • Individual census enumerators' books for the UK, 1851-1911 (I-CeM).

Supervision of Doctoral and Masters Students

I would be particularly pleased to hear from potential students wishing to pursue a PhD or MPhil in historical demography, which is the main focus of my own research. However I also supervise students working on current and recent demography and health geography. Please look at my current and recent research interests, my current graduate students (see panel on the right) and the titles of my past PhD students' theses and MPhil students' dissertations, then get in touch with me with your ideas about research topics that I may be able to supervise.

Recent Doctoral theses and Masters dissertations supervised include:


  • Infant and early childhood mortality decline in London, 1870-1929: a spatial and temporal analysis of its patterns, inequalities and policy effectiveness.
  • The Community-Based Health Insurance (CBHI) Scheme: The role of ethnicity, gender and socioeconomic status in explaining differential health outcomes in Ethiopia.
  • On shape and being shaped: the relation between overweight and obesity in London's schoolchildren and the energy-expending characteristics of their built environment.
  • Predictors and consequences of variability in secondary educational attainment in rural India: A life course approach.
  • High fertility rates in Uganda: is low contraceptive prevalence responsible?


  • A Comparative Study of the Determinants of out-migration in Norfolk, England and Pembrokeshire, Wales in the Nineteenth Century
  • Social resilience and health outcomes in Belfast
  • Obesity in London school children
  • Sex-selective abortion in India


[Publications will appear automatically from the University's publication database, Symplectic...]


  • Chair of Geographical Tripos 1A/1B Examination Board (2015-2018)
  • Subject Moderator for Geography, Cambridge University Admissions (2012 onwards)
  • Director of Studies in Geography for Churchill College & Fellow of Churchill College (2005 onwards)
  • Geography Tripos part II: Demographic Continuity and Change
  • Geography Tripos part 1B: Intermediate Statistical Methods
  • Geography Tripos part 1B: Disease
  • Geography Tripos part 1A: Geographies of Health

External activities

  • President of the British Society for Population Studies (2021-2023)
  • Vice-President of the British Society for Population Studies (2019-2021)
  • President of the European Society for Historical Demography (2017-2020)
  • Vice-President of the European Society for Historical Demography (2015 - 2016)
  • Editor of the Journal Population Studies (2010 onwards)
  • Member of the Population Investigation Committee (2013 onwards)
  • Chair of Population Investigation Committee Scholarship Committee (2014 onwards)
  • Member of the European Society of Historical Demography Council (2013 - 2019)
  • Member of the Historical Demography Panel, the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (2014 onwards)
  • British Society for Population Studies Council member (1996-2000, 2009-2013)