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Regional Death Rates in Ireland during the Great Famine, from 1846 to 1851

S. H. Cousens
Population Studies
Vol. 14, No. 1 (Jul., 1960), pp. 55-74
DOI: 10.2307/2172043
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2172043
Page Count: 20
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Regional Death Rates in Ireland during the Great Famine, from 1846 to 1851
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Abstract

The Great Famine of 1846 to 1851, saw one of the most dramatic declines in population that occurred in nineteenth-century Europe in peacetime. Although the exact number of people who died during the crisis is unknown, it is possible to reconstruct the approximate annual mortality in all the counties, and large towns, in Ireland. The basic material is continued in the 1851 census which combined statistics from public institutions which kept more or less accurate records of the deaths which occurred within them, and those culled from the census forms, which recorded deaths occurring in each family during the previous ten years, giving year and cause of death. The latter statistics are very incomplete and need adjustments for omissions. The paper describes a method of making such adjustments. The calculated mortality can be checked against independent non-census material. Although the nature of the evidence does not allow the establishment of famine death rates with complete accuracy, regional variations in mortality in both time and place are preserved. No full understanding of the loss of population in Ireland due to famine conditions can be obtained without first tackling the statistical material that is available.

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