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Ireland: A New Economic History 1780–1939$
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Cormac Gráda Ó

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205982

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205982.001.0001

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Population and Poverty, 1815–1845: From One Waterloo to Another

Population and Poverty, 1815–1845: From One Waterloo to Another

(p.69) 4 Population and Poverty, 1815–1845: From One Waterloo to Another
Ireland: A New Economic History 1780–1939

Cormac Ó Gráda

Oxford University Press

Textbook discussions on Ireland during the period 1815–45, not without reason, often bear titles such as ‘Rural Crisis’, ‘Years of Crisis’, or ‘Malthus Vindicated’. The conventional wisdom of steady impoverishment produced by the law of diminishing returns and ever-worsening subsistence crises, culminating in the Great Famine, has the ring of plausibility to it. Yet the full story is more complex. The preoccupation with population growth is pervasive, and understandably so. Numbers continued to rise, from 5 million in 1800 to about 7 million in 1821 and 8.5 million in 1845, but the increase was less rapid after 1821 than before, and closer to the European norm. By the 1820s, the rate of increase was declining even in areas of fastest growth within Ireland. This chapter asks: was the adjustment merely the product of emigration, or did movements in fertility and mortality play a part? This chapter discusses population patterns in Ireland from 1815 to 1845, mass emigration, living standards, and the government's provision of public health.

Keywords:   Ireland, poverty, population growth, Great Famine, living standards, public health, emigration, fertility, mortality

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