Longevity and the Rise of the West: Lifespans of the European Elite, 800-1800

Neil Cummins, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

I analyze the age at death of 121,524 European nobles from 800 to 1800. Longevity began increasing long before 1800 and the Industrial Revolution, with marked increases around 1400 and again around 1650. Declines in violence contributed to some of this increase, but the majority must reflect other changes in individual behavior. The areas of North-West Europe which later witnessed the Industrial Revolution achieved greater longevity than the rest of Europe even by 1000 AD. The data suggest that the `Rise of the West' originates before the Black Death.

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 Presented in Session 35. Health and Mortality at Older Ages