Life under Pressure: Mortality and Living Standards in Europe and Asia, 1700-1900

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This highly original book--the first in a series analyzing historical population behavior in Europe and Asia--pioneers a new approach to the comparative analysis of societies in the past. Using techniques of event history analysis, the authors examine 100,000 life histories in 100 rural communities in Western Europe and Asia to analyze the demographic response to social and economic pressures. In doing so they challenge the accepted Eurocentric Malthusian view of population processes and demonstrate that population behavior has not been as uniform as previously thought--that it has often been determined by human agency, particularly social structure and cultural practice.

The authors examine the complex relationship between human behavior and social and economic environment, analyzing age, gender, family, kinship, social class and social organization, climate, food prices, and real wages to compare mortality responses to adversity. Their research at the individual, household, and community levels challenges the previously accepted characterizations of social and economic behavior in Europe and Asia in the past. The originality of the analysis as well as the geographic breadth and historical depth of the data make Life Under Pressure a significant advance in the field of historical demography. Its findings will be of interest to scholars in economics, environmental studies, demography, history, and sociology as well as the general reader interested in these subjects.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A major milestone in preindustrial population history." J. P. McCoy Choice

"The book is amazingly rich and fascinating and represents a major advance in historical demography in data collection, theory, and methods." Ronald Lee and Richard H. Steckel Historical Methods

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262025515
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2004
  • Series: Eurasian Population and Family History
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 552
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Tommy Bengtsson is Professor of Economic History and Demography, Department of Economic History, Lund University, Sweden.

Cameron Campbell is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

James Z. Lee is Professor and Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

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Table of Contents

Series Foreword
Malthus's Perspective 1
1 New Malthusian Perspectives 3
I Comparative Geographies 25
2 Living Standards and Economics Stress 27
3 Economic Stress and Mortality 61
4 Family and Community 85
5 Society and Mortality 107
II Local Histories 133
6 Mortality and Social Class in Four Scanian Parishes, 1766-1865 135
7 Mortality and Modernization in Sart and Surroundings, 1812-1900 173
8 Mortality and Environment in Three Emilian, Tuscan, and Venetian Communities, 1800-1883 209
9 Mortality and Household in Two Ou Villages, 1716-1870 253
10 Mortality and Household in Seven Liaodong Populations, 1749-1909 293
III Comparative Demographies 325
11 Gender Differences in Mortality 327
12 Infant and Child Mortality 359
13 Old-Age Mortality 399
14 Agency and Demography: Eurasian Comparisons of Life under Pressure 431
App Sources and Measures 441
References 477
Index 523
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