Volume 39 - Article 4 | Pages 95–135

Leaving home in 19th century England and Wales: A spatial analysis

By Joseph Day

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Date received:01 Nov 2016
Date published:17 Jul 2018
Word count:9168
Keywords:19th century, census, England, leaving home, poverty, Wales


Background: The process and timing of leaving home represents a major demographic transition which has an impact on other demographic events such as migration and marriage.

Objective: This paper aims to accurately measure the leaving home process across England and Wales in 1881 at a high spatial resolution and to analyse the determinants of regional disparities in the leaving home process. The paper is designed to shift the focus away from the household- and individual-level determinants of leaving home and to the relationship with the socioeconomic context.

Methods: This paper uses data from the complete individual-level returns from the 1881 census of England and Wales. Using standard demographic techniques to adjust for parental mortality, a spatial framework is used to analyse the relationship between the leaving home process and the socioeconomic context. Moran’s global and local i is used to identify spatially-determined variables such that their effect on the age at leaving home can be evaluated in an OLS model.

Results: The leaving home process exhibits a clear spatial pattern related to the institution of service. Poor households responded to hardship by either retaining or ejecting children from the home depending on the prevalence of service.

Contribution: This article adds to the literature on the leaving home process by mapping variations in the mean age at leaving home across England and Wales in 1881 rather than relying on small region-specific samples. Through the comprehensive use of the census, this process can be linked to the socioeconomic context, thereby explicating households’ varying responses to poverty in 19th century England and Wales.

Author's Affiliation

Joseph Day - University of Cambridge, United Kingdom [Email]

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