Research School for Economic and Social History


PhD position on Air pollution and its socio-economic and health consequences in Dutch cities, 1850-1950 (Utrecht University) – deadline 15 June 2023

Utrecht University’s Economic and Social History group has an opportunity for a PhD candidate to work on a project titled “Air pollution and its socio-economic and health consequences in Dutch cities, 1850-1950”.  This PhD position is part of the interdisciplinary UU PhD programme of the Faculty of Humanities, funded by the administrative agreement (‘bestuursakkoord’) between the Ministry of OCW and the universities.

The project will analyse the impact of air pollution on health and other well-being outcomes (such as locational choices, occupational change, and schooling) in Dutch cities during a period of rapid technological change and economic growth (c. 1850-1950). Using individual-level data, this relationship will be examined in general but also differentiated by socio-economic status. The case is particularly interesting as the country industrialized late and had access to less polluting technologies. Additionally, during the time period of the proposal, pollution regulations were enforced at the discretion of municipalities. What was the impact of these regulations, and why did some municipalities enforce them, while others did not?

The project will make use of digitised Dutch archives, providing us with a massive dataset of vital records and high-precision data on factory locations. The PhD candidate will have the opportunity to work with state-of-the-art techniques such as record linkage and GIS to integrate existing data sets, and enrich them with additional information from archives where needed. The resulting dataset will be analyzed using regression analysis to uncover the causal effects of air pollution.

Applications should be submitted via the AcademicTransfer portal ultimately 15 June 2023.