DP18505 The New Poor Law and the health of the population of England and Wales 1834-1860
We estimate the impact of reductions in poor law expenditure following the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act on rural life expectancy and mortality rates. We find that a 10 per cent decrease in poor law expenditure is associated with roughly a 1.5–2.0 per cent increase in early childhood mortality (ECMR). Our estimates imply 8–10 per cent increases in ECMR and 2–4 per cent falls in rural expectation of life at birth as a result of the spending cuts imposed by the Poor Law Amendment Act. These results help to explain the weak performance of mid-nineteenth century life expectancy measures during a period of rising real wages but falling welfare expenditure.