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A Global History of Historical Demography

Half a Century of Interdisciplinarity

Edited By Antoinette Fauve-Chamoux, Ioan Bolovan and Sølvi Sogner

At the XXIst World Congress of the International Committee of Historical Sciences (ICHS/CISH) in 2010 in Amsterdam, the International Commission for Historical Demography (ICHD) decided to write an overview of its own history. Fifty years had gone by since the CISH XIst World Congress in Stockholm 1960, when historians took the first tentative initiatives to create a wholly new interdisciplinary commission for historical demography, a meeting place for a budding discipline where researchers in letters and science could meet, exchange ideas, cultivate and develop a new field. This book is the outcome of that decision.

Demography, past, present and future is a common concern for all inhabitants of this planet. The variation is great, however, with regard to sources, social and political conditions, state of the art, technological development, national and local initiatives. In the course of half a century many changes take place. Keeping abreast of the gigantic streams of information and innovation in the field is demanding, even more so for a discipline with global dimensions and ambitions. The book makes fascinating reading, and preparing it has been a rewarding and thought provoking experience. The thirty-seven articles in the book represent as many different stories.

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11. Historical Demography in Denmark


Historical Demography in Denmark

Hans Christian JOHANSEN1

Interest in historical demography started in Denmark in the mid-1960s with several local studies using the family reconstitution method adapted to Danish sources. The main difference compared to studies in many other countries was the use of the early Danish nominal census lists. They include information for each inhabitant about name, age, position in the household, civil status and occupation for the head of the household. Based on this information it was possible to include a larger proportion of the population in calculations of measures of fertility, nuptiality and mortality than has been the case in many other countries.

Most studies were concentrated to the period from 1735 to 1840. Before that time sources are scarcer, and from about 1840 nationwide contemporary statistics can in many cases be used directly for demographic studies.

During the late 1960s and the 1970s the main characteristics of the Danish population in the pre-statistical era were mapped out. They had many similarities to conditions in other north western European countries, but showed especially high ages at first marriage – c. 28 years on average for women and 31 years for men. Studies of family composition were also in agreement with neighbouring countries with few households with two married generations under the same roof – to some extent a consequence of the high marriage age, but most likely also combined with a tradition of not marrying until it was possible to take...

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