Gender, health, and welfare in England and Wales since industrialisation

Harris, Bernard (2008) Gender, health, and welfare in England and Wales since industrialisation. Research in Economic History, 26. pp. 157-204. ISSN 0363-3268

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Abstract

In recent years, a number of historians have examined the reasons for differences in the height and health of men and women in nineteenth-century Britain, often drawing on economic studies which link excess female mortality in the developing world to restrictions in women's employment opportunities. This paper re-examines this literature and summarises the existing literature on sex-specific differences in height, weight and mortality in England and Wales before 1850. It then uses two electronic datasets to examine changes in cause-specific mortality rates between 1851 and 1995. Although there is little evidence to support the view that the systematic neglect of female children was responsible for high rates of female mortality in childhood, there is rather more evidence to show that gender inequalities contributed to excess female mortality in adulthood.