Team: Prof Martin Shanahan & Dr John Wilson

Partner: University of New England, Monash University & Australian Research Council


Putting death in its place.


The project aims to link 890,000 population records to place of residence from 1838 to 1930, to examine the relationships between where people live, mortality, life expectancy and health. Where people live impacts their life-course outcomes.


Using novel matching techniques, the project expects to identify intergenerational changes and the spatial dynamics of inequality and social mobility. Expected outcomes include the creation of a public resource of linked data and a better understanding of long-run health and inequality. These should provide economic and social benefits by informing policy aimed at contemporary social and health challenges, enhancing our understanding of Australian history, and developing public resources.

One of the most fundamental issues facing people is where, and in what circumstances they live. The focus of this research is on how this relates to mortality, and the factors that influence this through generations. Inequalities in these types of outcome are often correlated with particular geographic locations, or urban characteristics, which themselves originate from more fundamental issues such as environmental effects, and the availability of public services. These relationships are complex and are only beginning to be understood. This study, by exploring a long run history of the interplay between mortality, health and place for Tasmania, aims to inform contemporary policy and research. Of equal importance is an understanding of our past. To this end, this work will generate a unique set of matched data, freely accessible through a user-friendly interface. This resource will stand as a means by which Australians can explore their more personal histories, and provide a window into the overall evolution of Australian society.