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Cambridge Global Food Security

An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge


Dr. Davenport is an historical demographer and historical geographer interested in mortality, urbanisation and migration, particularly the long-run epidemiological consequences of urbanisation and rural-urban migration. 


Dr. Davenport used to be a plant biologist and worked on improving salt tolerance of crop plants. Now she works on the causes of mortality declines, and in particular the dramatic convergence in life expectancies between urban and rural populations that has accompanied the ‘Mortality Revolution’ of the past two centuries. Epidemic disease is often regarded as an exogenous variable in historical demographic regimes, operating independently of food supply. However although the most lethal epidemic diseases did not depend on poor host nutritional status for their lethality, disease circulation was facilitated by migration, and harvest failures increased short-term migration in search of food and work. One aim of her current work is to understand in the British context how public health and famine relief policies interacted, both to reduce dearth-associated migration and therefore epidemic disease mortality, and to control disease and therefore to reduce infectious disease mortality associated with high food prices.  A second aim is to assess the roles that improvements in nutritional status played in raising life expectancy through increasing resistance to infectious diseases and improving maternal and infant health.

Senior Research Associate, Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure
Dr Romola  Davenport

Contact Details

Email address: 
01223 333384
Not available for consultancy


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