What are the historical roots of current-day social inequalities in health? As a PhD Candidate in the field of Economic, Social and Demographic History you will have the opportunity to carry out your own PhD project to study what caused health inequalities in the Netherlands during the long nineteenth century. You will be supervised by a team of experts and able to participate in a larger international network.

Dramatic changes in mortality are considered to be among the crowning achievements of the past 200 years. Life expectancy at birth has increased with no less than 40 years and, instead of infectious diseases, so-called degenerative diseases became leading causes of death. While it is difficult to overstate the importance of this development, this health transition was not equally distributed across and within societies.

Your main task is to research the historical developments of social differences in mortality and its drivers in the Netherlands during the long nineteenth century (1780-1940). We are open to proposals considering the ‘social’ history of health inequalities in the broadest sense possible, and especially welcome a focus on one or more of the following aspects:  health of adults (aged 20+); epidemics and contagious diseases; marginalised groups; gender differences; neighbourhood effects; and history from below.

For the project, we strongly encourage the use of individual-level data sources such as causes of death, civil certificates, population registers and patient registers – many of which have already been digitised. You do not need to be familiar with the quantitative methods used to study these sources, such as regression, event history, or competing risk analysis, but an interest in learning social science methods is important. Additional qualitative analyses of medical and governmental reports, newspaper articles and medical directories are encouraged to put into context and explain possible quantitative results. Through this mixed-methods approach, we hope to incorporate social history, historical demography, and medical history into the project.

For your project, you can take advantage of the international Studying the Health in (Port) Cities Network and the EU COST-Action ‘The Great Leap. Multidisciplinary approaches to health inequalities, 1800-2022‘.

Your research will be embedded in the Radboud Institute for Culture & History (RICH) and you will be part of the Graduate School for the Humanities (GSH). You will devote 75% of your time to the research for and writing of your PhD thesis. The remaining 25% will be spent on training and academic service to the Faculty of Arts, including teaching.

We offer you the opportunity to develop and carry out your own PhD project within the areas of expertise of your supervisors: Dr Sanne Muurling and Dr Tim Riswick. Your thesis supervisor will be Prof. Jan Kok. The project will be funded by a Starters grant from the Faculty of Arts awarded to Dr Sanne Muurling and Dr Tim Riswick.