Fertility and child mortality in their household setting: a variety of perspectives from UK censuses, 1861-1911

Eilidh Garrett (University of Cambridge), Alice Reid (University of Cambridge), Simon Szreter (University of Cambridge)

Abstract

Fertility and child mortality in their household setting: a variety of perspectives from UK censuses, 1861-1911

This paper considers the question of whether it is advisable to use indicators derived from a ‘static’ source such as the census to examine processes such as fertility and infant mortality, which play out over time. The 1911 censuses of England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland, all asked retrospective questions concerning the ‘fertility of marriage’ and have been the focus of much research on the major demographic changes unfolding over the end of the nineteenth century and the opening decades of the twentieth. With the release of the individual level data from these censuses researchers have new impetus to engage with these topics. However, high mobility within urban communities (related to changing social and economic circumstances, age, marital status, and life cycle stage) suggests that those engaging in analyses which combine the ‘snapshot’ details of couples and their families, neighbourhoods and communities caught on the census schedules on the day of the 1911 census with the retrospective data on those same schedules providing fertility and mortality information experienced over a period of years or even decades before 1911, may lead to unwarranted conclusions.

DOI: 10.4424/ps2010-11

Keywords

Census; infant and child mortality; mobility; fertility; United Kingdom; indirect estimation