Residential Mobility and Child Mortality in Early Twentieth Century Belfast



The 1911 censuses of the British Isles included questions directed at currently married women, relating to the number of children they had borne in that marriage, the number of those children who were still alive and the number who had died. With the help of the demographic techniques of indirect estimation, the answers to such questions can be made to yield estimates of infant and child mortality over the 15 or 20 years leading up to the census. Although the civil registration system in England and Wales was established in the early nineteenth century, and those for Scotland and Ireland followed in mid-century, accurate, individual level records of birth, marriage and death are not available for research purposes. The records of children born and died from the 1911 census can be used instead in analyses of fertility and early-age mortality in relation to the independent variables measured by the census. This analysis, however, assumes that the variables recorded at the time of the census applied at the time the children were born and grew up, but mobility in nineteenth-century cities was very high: for example, in Belfast fewer than 20 % of household heads in 1911 had been resident in the same house in 1901. Thus the independent variables measured at the time of the census may not have applied a few years previously when the children were at risk of death. This paper uses the 1911 and 1901 censuses of Belfast to explore the child mortality of movers and stayers, and examines the mobility histories of movers to assess the viability of using characteristics measured in 1911 as proxies for those applicable when the children were at risk of death.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Department of HistoryUniversity of EssexColchesterUK
  3. 3.Faculty of HistoryUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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