19. 10. 23
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20173 Zevacu,

04 95 24 44 38, RCS Ajaccio

432 408 490,

capital: 10 000 €

Directeur publication:

Bassino Jean Pascal. 20140 Tassinca



19. 10. 21
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European Historical Population Samples Network



Demography of Victorian Scotland (Cambridge University, Britain)


Norwegian Historical Population Register (Artic University of Norway)


Population and Family History Project (Reitaku University, Japan)


Program for Historical Demography (Academia Sinica, Taiwan)


Registre de Population du Québec Ancien (Québec, Canada)


Scanian Economic Demographic Database (Lund University, Sweden)


19. 10. 17
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Research question

How bad were the living conditions of ordinary folks before the late 19th century in the rural regions of Europe where the control of the State was weak? The received wisdom if that their life was “nasty, brutish, and short”. Most people tend also to believe they were almost ignorant of advanced knowledge developed in urban areas, and had very limited prospect of upward social mobility. However, evidence supporting these claims is scarce. The most commonly used indicators of living standards for the late medieval and early modern period are urban real wages and estimates of average per capita income at the country level. Various microstudies focused on a cluster of villages or a rural kinship network indicate, in reality, a diversity of local conditions and institutions, often evolving rapidly. The obvious limitation of these microstudies is the difficulty to assess the representativeness of the small sample of individuals observed.

Aim of the project and methodology

The aim of the project is to analyse changes in living standards, demographic patterns, and capabilities with a regional database of more than one million individuals covering several centuries. The risk of sample selection bias would therefore be negligible. Such a longitudinal database with overlapping generations would also enable the evaluation of the role of kinship networks and the impact of exogenous shocks such as military operations, epidemics, and climate anomalies. The database will indicate, for all individuals, their name, year and place of birth and death, names of parents and children, occupations (PSTI coded), and spatial mobility; and, at the village level, information on physical assets and environmental conditions. This implies constructing a detailed geographic information system documenting changes in settlements, land cover, and carrying capacity of the ecosystems.

Why Corsica?

A study focused on Corsica is possible thanks to the abundance of historical data available in public archives, enabling to construct a quasi-exhaustive database with individual information from ca 1650. In addition, Corsica is attractive due to the large regional variation in ecological conditions, land use, and institutions. Although mostly hilly and fragmented by high mountains, its 8,680 square km supported around 130,000 to 200,000 habitants between the 15th and the early 19th centuries. Throughout the island, intensive garden and orchard cultivation were combined with extensive grain production and animal husbandry, but striking regional specialization existed. Local communities managed a sizable part of the area as natural commons, which accounted for widely varying shares depending of the villages. Overall, land inequality was low but some areas had large landowners and the same type of share-cropping as in the Tuscan mezzadria. Although mostly rural, the Corsicans were notorious from the late medieval and early modern period for their high degree of spatial mobility, as migrants to neighbouring regions but also far away from Europe for a few individuals.