Life expectancy of artists in the Low Countries from the fifteenth to the twentieth century

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Abstract

We investigated the role that urbanization and plague may have played in changes in life expectancy amongst artists in the Low Countries who were born between 1450 and 1909. Artists can be considered to be representative of a middle-class population living mostly in urban areas. The dataset was constructed using biographical information collected by the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie in The Hague, the Netherlands. As early as the beginning of the sixteenth century, life expectancy at age 20 amongst the artists had reached 40 years. After a substantial decline in the late sixteenth and the early seventeenth centuries, when plague hit the region, life expectancy at age 20 began to rise again, and this upward trend accelerated after 1850. The life expectancy of female artists commonly exceeded that of males, and sculptors had better survival prospects than painters. In comparison with elite groups in the Low Countries and elsewhere in Europe, life expectancy amongst the artists was rather high. keywords: Low Countries; Netherlands; Belgium; Golden Age; historical demography; life expectancy; survival of middle classes; Gompertz curve; art history; painters and sculptors
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-292
JournalPopulation Studies: a journal of demography
Volume67
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords

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