Death and the Metropolis offers a powerful analysis of demographic patterns in London over the 'long eighteenth century', concentrating on mortality but also including data on marital fertility, population structure and migration. The study is based on a variety of sources including weekly and annual Bills of Mortality, parish registers and Quaker vital registers, and employs the techniques of family reconstitution and aggregative analysis. The data are analysed within the framework of a structural model of mortality change comprising the proximate determinants of exposure to, and resistance against, infectious agents on the the part of populations. Within this framework a model is established describing the specific demographic and epidemiological characteristics of early modern metropolitan centres. The model is tested against the data in respect of a number of variables including the level and short-run stability of mortality; the seasonality of mortality; the sensitivity of London's demographic regime to economic, climatic and other external shocks; and spatial variations in the regime.
The evidence indicates that mortality in London was much higher than in other settlements in England for most of the period, but declined steeply in the later eighteenth century. This apparently reflected changes in exposure to infections.