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Cambridge Reproduction


Professor of History and Public Policy

St John's College
Cambridge CB2 1TP

Subject groups/Research projects

Departments and Institutes

Research Interests

History and Public Policy, especially in relation to comparative demographic, social and economic change. Current research includes the study of qualitative and quantitative sources on the history of fertility decline in Britain, including a new project on the venereal diseases and fertility decline; the history of mortality public health and politics; and the comparative history of identity registration systems in world history. I am a long-term honorary research associate of the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure; and currently with several colleagues in the Dept of History and Philosophy of Science, Classics and Physiology, I am an award-holder of the 5-year Wellcome Strategic Award, 2009-14, to the University of Cambridge on the Theme of 'Generation to Reproduction', which has a number of funded doctoral scholarships attached to it.

Research Supervision

Modern Social, Family, Gender and Demographic History and Policy. Completed PhD students have worked recently on: Male Legislators and Women's Rights in Britain 1866-86; the Family and Health Policy in Bulgaria, 1918-44; The role of Residents’ and Housing Associations in the Portuguese Revolution 1974-5, The reception of Yoga and Ayurveda in Twentieth-century Britain; A comparative local study of parent-child relations in England c.1850-1910; British government dietary policy and the influence of pressure groups c.1970-90; Disinfection in Victorian cities c.1850-1914; Borders and identity registration systems in South Africa and the Indian Ocean c.1890-1920; ‘The Development and dissemination of venereological knowledge in England, 1886-1913'.


Undergraduate Teaching

Faculty Lecturer and College supervisor for Part I courses in modern British economic and social history 1700-1880 and 1880-2015. Course Co-ordinator and supervisor for Part II Paper 6, 'World population, development and environment since 1750: comparative history and policy’

Graduate Teaching

M.Phil in Economic and Social History: ‘Core Concepts in Economic and Social Theory and History’; and Course Tutor on advanced paper, ‘Economic growth, health and politics since 1750’.

Supervising of PhDs in modern social, demogrpahic and economic history 

Key Publications

  • Fertility, class and gender in Britain 1860-1940 (1996)
  • Changing family size in England and Wales 1891-1911: place, class and demography (with E.Garrett, A.Reid and K.Schurer) (2001)
  • Categories and Contexts. Anthropological and Historical Studies in Critical Demography. Co-edited with H. Sholamy, A. Dharmlingam, Oxford University Press International Studies in Demography (2004)
  • Health and WealthStudies in History and Policy (2005)
  • Sex Before the Sexual Revolution. Intimate Life in England 1918-1963 (co-authored with K.Fisher) (2010)
  • History, Historians and Development Policy (co-edited with C.A.Bayly, V.Rao and M. Woolcock 2011)
  • Registration and Recognition. Documenting the Person in World History (co-edited with K.Breckenridge 2011)
  • The Big Society Debate. A New Agenda for Social Welfare? (co-edited with A. Ishkanian 2012)
Simon Szreter