Migration, mortality and medicalisation: investigating the long-run epidemiological consequences of urbanisation, 1600–1945


  • Prof Richard Smith

    University of Cambridge

Project summary

Today, life expectancy is higher in urban rather than rural areas, but early modern towns and cities were demographic sinks with extraordinarily high mortality, especially among the young and migrants who were essential for city growth. This project seeks to investigate how and when cities transformed from urban graveyards into promoters of health between 1600 and 1945. The project will hypothesise that the process of endemicisation and exogenous disease variation is key to the evolution of both urban and non-urban mortality regimes, especially with respect to: infectious diseases among the young, maternal health and adult migrants and their health/immunological status.