Many European countries experienced rapid urbanisation and industrialisation during the 19th and early 20th centuries. In general, the onset of those processes occurred when the urban penalty – or excessive urban mortality – was still unsolved, increasing population pressure in the cities. In this study, we measure the effect of population redistribution from (low-mortality) rural to (high-mortality) urban areas on the changes in life expectancy at birth in Scotland from 1861 to 1910. Using vital registration data for that period, we apply a new decomposition method that decomposes changes in life expectancy into the contributions of two main components: 1) the effect of changes in mortality, and 2) the effect of compositional changes in the population. Our findings indicate that, besides an urban penalty, an urbanisation penalty existed in Scotland during the study period. In the absence of the latter, life expectancy at birth in Scotland could have attained higher values by the beginning of the 20th century.
Catalina Torres is a PhD Student at the Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark (SDU). Her current research interests are in historical demography, in particular mortality and living conditions in historical populations. She holds a M. Sc. in Demography from the University of Montreal.
For the world as a whole, life expectancy has more than doubled over the past two centuries. This transformation of the duration of life has greatly enhanced the quantity and quality of people’s lives. It has fuelled enormous increases in economic output and in population size, including an explosion in the number of the elderly. Understanding human mortality dynamics is of utmost importance in the context of rapid ageing process together with the increase in length of life experienced by most populations nowadays. The presentation highlights new and innovative methods of estimating and predicting the future human mortality levels by analysing the changes in the observed distribution of deaths and life expectancy trajectories.
Marius Pascariu is a Ph.D. research fellow at University of Southern Denmark (SDU) with particular interests in mortality modelling, longevity risk and actuarial science. Prior to enrolling at SDU, he was affiliated with Max-Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany. He holds a master’s degree in cybernetics and quantitative economics from Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies.