The limitations of English family reconstitution: "English Population History from Family Reconstitution 1580-1837"

S Ruggles
1999 Continuity and Change  
English population history from family reconstitution 1580 -1837 (Cambridge, 1997 is an impressive volume. This ambitious study represents the culmination of a quarter-century of laborious research by four of the most accomplished practitioners of English historical demography, E. A. Wrigley, R. S. Davies, J. E. Oeppen, and R. S. Schofield. The sheer volume of information is overwhelming ; the book contains 121 tables and 73 graphs, and it weighs in at almost 2" # pounds. The study is a
more » ... study is a landmark in the field of pre-industrial population history. It contributes important new evidence on long-run trends in fertility, mortality, and marriage behaviour. Even more exciting than the refinement of the aggregate results contained in previous work by the Cambridge Group, however, is the new kinds of analyses made possible by the existence of microdata. The book marshals an array of innovative methods to address a remarkable assortment of demographic issues. The authors address dozens of topics previously hidden from view, ranging from an ingenious analysis of the relative mortality of monozygotic and dyzygotic twins, to an important investigation of lifetime fecundity, to an exhaustive analysis of the seasonality of mortality. A work of this magnitude invites close scrutiny. Like the previous equally substantial volume by the same research team, The Population History of England, 1541England, -1871England, (1981 this one is sure to generate controversy. Much of this, I expect, will be stimulated by the expansive claims made by the authors about the representativeness and reliability of
pmid:20128133 fatcat:pzmvq6kgzbfjrfgayiqbw2u7dy