29 November 2012 - CPC, with The British Society for Population Studies (BSPS) and Gresham College, held a symposium to mark the 350th anniversary of John Graunt's work on the Bills of Mortality; commonly viewed as the birth of UK, and perhaps even European, demography.
John Graunt (1620-1674) analysed the vital statistics of the citizens of London collected over a 70-year period and wrote a book, Natural and Political Observations Made upon the Bills of Mortality, published in 1662, which resulted in the first statistically based estimation of the population of London.
His work greatly influenced the demographers of his day and those in the centuries that followed. Graunt was honoured for his work by being made a charter member of England's Royal Society.
This symposium, which took place at Gresham College, London, opened with an historical examination of mortality patterns in London during Graunt's era, and assessed the contribution of the Bills of Mortality to the development of demography as a discipline. It was followed by a presentation of the current 'state-of-the-art' of mortality studies in the UK, Europe and beyond, all the time considering the influence of Graunt.
The symposium concluded with a panel discussion in which representatives from the Government Actuary's Department and the Office for National Statistics spoke on how changing mortality patterns interact with contemporary policy and planning issues.
Lectures from the event are available from the Gresham College website:
Part One: Mortality in Historical London
Part Two: Contemporary Mortality
Part Three: How do we build extended longevity into our visions of the future?
The full list of speakers:
- Sir Roderick Floud, Gresham College
- Jane Falkingham, ESRC Centre for Population Change
- Jon Anson, Ben Gurion University of the Negev: Current trends in European and Middle Eastern mortality
- Jeremy Boulton and Romola Davenport, University of Cambridge: Death, disease and the environment: contextualising individual causes of death in 18th Century London
- Marc Luy, Vienna Institute of Demography: More complex than Graunt could imagine: theoretical and practical thoughts about tempo effects in the conventional period life table
- Mike Murphy, London School of Economics: John Graunt: a Twenty-first Century perspective
- Gill Newton, University of Cambridge: Parochial registration and the Bills of Mortality
- Richard Smith, University of Cambridge: John Graunt, the law of natural decline and the origins of urban historical demography
- James Vaupel, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock: Using mortality to compare the health of populations
- Adrian Gallop, Government Actuary's Department
-Julie Mills, Office for National Statistics