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The growth of sanitary intervention in nineteenth-century England and Wales

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This paper examines the loans contracted by local authorities and other public bodies for public works during the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. The value of these loans has often been regarded as a sensitive barometer of sanitary effort, and they have been used to measure the impact of sanitary reform on mortality decline in England and Wales between 1850 and 1914. However, the extent, distribution and purposes of the loans themselves have rarely been examined in any detail. This is particularly true of loans which were authorized under Local Acts from the early-nineteenth century onwards This paper presents new data on the development of these loans following the end of the Napoleonic Wars. In addition to loans which were sanctioned by the Local Government Board after 1871, it also examines loans which were sanctioned by the Public Works Loans Board after 1817, and by the General Boards of Health and the Privy Council after 1848. It also investigates the loans authorized under Local Acts from 1817. By combining data from these sources, we shed new light on the relationship between sanitary intervention and mortality change from the middle of the nineteenth century.

This talk is part of the Core Seminar in Economic and Social History series.

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