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Lifespans of the European Elite, 800–1800

  • Neil Cummins (a1)

I analyze the adult age at death of 115,650 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 violent deaths from battle contributed to some of this increase, but the majority must reflect other changes in individual behavior. There are historic spatial contours to European elite mortality; Northwest Europe achieved greater adult lifespans than the rest of Europe even by 1000 ad.

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I thank Greg Clark, Morgan Kelly, Alan Fernihough, Cormac Ó Gráda, five anonymous referees, and Ann Carlos, the editor of this Journal, for valuable suggestions. This research would have been impossible without the incredible genealogical labors of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints.

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