Historical Social Research

  • You are here:
  • Archive
  • 2007
  • 32.2 - Family Limitation

32.2 - Family Limitation

HSR Vol. 32 (2007) No. 2: Special Issue: Family Limitation

Rolf Gehrmann (Ed.): Family Limitation in Historical Perspective

Questions concerning birth restriction have always been important in the “classical debates” of historical demography. The contributions of this HSR Special Issue shed new light on those questions. It seems that birth restriction in Europe had a long tradition even as an inner-matrimonial “birth restriction.” That reduces its revolutionary character and makes demographic transition more understandable. In this context, the extension of spacing gains a new meaning. It is necessary to work beyond the arsenal of the methods the “Princeton-Group” offers. Also, the scheme of classic transition theory turns out to be problematic in light of swings in fertility rates in the “demographic Ancien Régime,” and the observed increasing fertility (“ski-jump”) during the “Fertility Decline.” As a matter of fact, the proven explanations prove to be productive if applied to small populations. This is because it is easier to define more precisely various influential factors: economic development, social situation and cultural factors, especially religion. There is also an integration of demographic determinants reacting on families and, last but not least, enhancing the perspective to gender aspects.

Kevin Schürer (Ed.): Creating a Nationally Representative Individual and Household Sample for Great Britain, 1851 to 1901: the Victorian Panel Study (VPS).

This HSR Focus is a direct result of an earlier scoping study undertaken for the ESRC's Research Resources Board which investigated the potential for creating a new longitudinal database of individuals and households for the period 1851 to 1901 - the Victorian Panel Study (VPS). The basic concept of the VPS is to create a unique longitudinal database of individuals and households for Great Britain spanning the period from 1851-1901. The proposed VPS project raises a number of methodological and logistical challenges, and it is these which are the focus of this publication. The basic idea of the VPS is simple in concept. It would take, as its base, the individuals and households recorded in the existing ESRC-funded computerised national two per cent sample of the 1851 British census, created by Professor Michael Anderson, and trace these through subsequent registration and census information for the fifty-year period to 1901. The result would be a linked database with each census year between 1851 and 1901 in essence acting as a surrogate 'wave,' associated with information from registration events that occurred between census years. Although the idea of a VPS can be expressed in this short and simple fashion, designing and planning it, together with identifying and justifying the resources necessary to create it, is a complex set of tasks, and it is these which this publication seeks to address. The primary aims and objectives of the project described in this publication were essentially as follows: to estimate the potential user demand for a VPS and examine the uses to which it may be put; to test the suitability of the existing 1851 census sample as an appropriate starting point for a VPS; to test differing sampling and methodological issues; to investigate record-linkage strategies; to investigate the relationship between the VPS and other longitudinal data projects (both contemporary and historical); and to recommend a framework and strategy for creating a full VPS. The structure and contents of this publication follow this basic project plan.