Professor Michael Anderson (OBE, MA, PhD, Dr h.c. (Edin), Hon D.Litt (Leic), FBA, FRSE, FRHistS, Hon.FFA)

Professor Emeritus of Economic History and Honorary Professorial Fellow



I read Modern Languages and Economics and Politics (including sociology and economic history) in Cambridge, then did a PhD there on the impact of industrialisation on the family in Lancashire. I was appointed as Assistant Lecturer in Sociology 1967, then Lecturer in 1969, and Reader 1975, before becoming Professor of Economic History in 1979. Over the next 28 years I taught a wide range of courses in economic, social and population history and also since 2000 I have taught on a course on Research Design for graduate students in the School of Social and Political Studies. I have done and supervised research into many aspects of family and population history as well as on the sociology of the household economy and of the family more widely. From 1985 until I retired from full-time employment in 2007, I held a series of senior management roles, ending as Senior Vice-Principal of the University for 2000-2007.

Over many years, I served on research committees and the councils of many research bodies, including ESRC, the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh and I have also been heavily involved in UK research library policy, serving nine years on the Board of the British Library and from 2000 to 2012 as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National Library of Scotland. I have also served on many research programme  or policy advisory boards.

External appointments

  • National Library of Scotland Foundation (Chairman)
  • Member of the Office of National Statistics UK Population Theme Advisory Board
  • Member of the Advisory Board for the ESRC Centre for Population Change

Responsibilities & affiliations

Other affiliated schools


Postgraduate teaching

  • Research Design (School of Social and Political Studies) contributor

Research summary

Most of the research that I do nowadays is on population history, though I retain some interests also in the history and sociology of forethought, something I might hope to return to in the future.


  • Britain & Ireland
  • Europe
  • Scotland


  • Migration


  • Eighteenth Century
  • Nineteenth Century
  • Twentieth Century & After

Current research interests

I am currently writing a history of Scotland’s populations (the plural is intended), exploring the diversity of the country’s demographic histories principally over the past 160ish years, in the context of wider British and European population change. I am currently exploring collaboration with English colleagues on a detailed UK population survey back to 1801 or even earlier, involving computer mapping for Great Britain down to parish level.


Michael Anderson, Scotland's Populations from the 1850s to Today (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).

Michael Anderson, Editor of British Population History: from the Black Death to the Present Day (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

Michael Anderson, Co-editor (with Frank Bechhofer and Jonathan Gershuny) of The Social and Political Economy of the Household (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994).

Michael Anderson, Population Change in North-western Europe, 1750-1850 (London: Macmillan Studies in Economic and Social History, 1988).

Michael Anderson, Approaches to the History of the Western Family, 1500-1914 (London: Macmillan Studies in Economic and Social History, 1985; Italian translation 1982, Spanish translation 1988, Japanese translation 1989; 2nd edition with updated introduction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

Michael Anderson, Editor of Sociology of the Family: Readings (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971, 2nd edition, 1979).

Michael Anderson, Family Structure in Nineteenth Century Lancashire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971).


Articles and book chapters

Michael Anderson, ‘Population History in Scotland: opportunities under-explored’, in Antoinette Fauve-Chamoux, Ioan Bolovan and Sølvi Sogner (eds), A Global History of Historical Demography: half a century of interdisciplinarity, (Bern: Peter Lang, 2016).

Michael Anderson, ’The demographic factor’, in Tom Devine and Jenny Wormald (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Modern Scottish History, (Oxford University Press, 2012), 39-61


Michael Anderson, ‘Guesses, estimates and adjustments: Webster’s 1755 ‘census’  of Scotland revisited again’, Journal of Scottish Historical Studies, 31, part 1 (2011),  26-45.


Michael Anderson ‘How different were Lancashire families in the Victorian period? Some reflections on another 40 years of research’, in Andrew Gritt (ed), Family History in Lancashire, Issues and Approaches, (Cambridge Scholars Publishing,  2009) 43-79.

Michael Anderson, 'Scotland's population: local perspectives', in Scotland's Population 2006: The Registrar General's Annual Review of Demographic Trend, 152nd edition (2007), chapter 2, pp. 51-83 (lead author with Nick Wright)

Michael Anderson, 'Timespans and plans among young adults', Sociology , 39 (2005), 139-55 (lead author with Frank Bechhofer, Lynn Jamieson, David McCrone, Yaojun Li and Robert Stewart). Michael Anderson, 'One Scotland or several: the historical evolution of Scotland's population over the past century and its implications for the future', in Robert Wright (ed.), Scotland's Demographic Challenge (Scottish Economic Policy Network, 2004), 8-33. Michael Anderson, 'The population of East Lothian, 1945-2000', Fourth Statistical Account of East Lothian (2003), 51-5. Michael Anderson, 'Confidence amid uncertainty: ambitions and plans in a sample of young adults', Sociological Research Online , vol. 6 no. 4 (2002) (lead author with Frank Bechhofer, Lynn Jamieson, David McCrone, Yaojun Li and Robert Stewart). Michael Anderson, 'Sooner rather than later? Younger and middle aged adults preparing for retirement', Ageing and Society , 20 (2000), 445-66 (lead author with Yaojun Li, Robert Stewart, Frank Bechhofer and David McCrone). Michael Anderson, 'Population growth and population regulation in nineteenth century rural Scotland', in T. Bengtsson and O. Saito (eds.), Population and Economy: From Hunger to Modern Economic Growth (Oxford, 2000), 112-31. Michael Anderson, 'What can the mid-Victorian censuses tell us about patterns of married women's employment?', Local Population Studies , no. 62 (1999), 9-30. Michael Anderson, 'Why was Scottish nuptiality so depressed for so long?' in I. Devos and L Kennedy (eds.), Marriage and Rural Economy: Western Europe since 1400 (Turnhout, 1999), 45-82. Michael Anderson, 'Highly restricted fertility: very small families in the British fertility decline', Population Studies, 52 (1999), 177-199. Michael Anderson, 'Fertility decline in Scotland, England and Wales, and Ireland: comparisons from the 1911 Census of Fertility', Population Studies , 52 (1998), 1-20. Michael Anderson, 'Migration and nuptiality as interacting regulators of Scottish population growth, 1855-1914', in A. Bideau, A. Perrenoud, K.-A. Lynch and G. Brunet (eds.), Les Systèmes Démographiques du Passé (Programme Rhöne-Alpes de Recherche en Sciences Humaines, Lyon, 1996), 141-57. Michael Anderson, 'High fertility, high emigration, low nuptiality: adjustment processes in Scotland's demographic experience, 1861-1914', Population Studies, 47 (1993), 5-26 and 319-43 (lead author with Donald Morse). Michael Anderson, 'Population and family', in T. Dickson and J. H. Treble (eds.), People and Society in Scotland , vol. iii: 1914 to the Present (Edinburgh, 1992), 12-47. Michael Anderson, 'The social implications of demographic change, 1750-1950', in F. M. L. Thompson (ed.), The Cambridge Social History of Britain, vol. ii (Cambridge, 1990), 1-71. Michael Anderson, 'The people', in W. H. Fraser and R. J. Morris (eds.), People and Society in Scotland , vol. ii: 1830-1914 (Edinburgh, 1990), 8-45 (lead author with D. J. Morse). Michael Anderson, 'Households, families and individuals: some preliminary results from the National Sample from the 1851 census', Continuity and Change, 3 (1988). Michael Anderson, 'Historical demography after The Population History of England'', Journal of Inter-disciplinary History , 25 (1985), 595-607. Michael Anderson, 'The origins of the modern life cycle in Britain', Social History, 10 (1985). Michael Anderson, 'Urban migration in Victorian Britain: problems of assimilation?' in E. François (ed.), Immigration et Société Urbaine en Europe Occidentale: XV1e-XX Siècles (Editions Recherche sur les Civilisations, Paris, 1985), 79-91. Michael Anderson, 'The social position of spinsters in mid-Victorian Britain', Journal of Family History, 9 (1984), 377-93. Michael Anderson, 'What is new about the modern family?', OPCS Occasional Paper no. 31 (1983), 1-16. Michael Anderson, 'Stability and change in urban communities; some sceptical comments', in R. Johnson and C. Pooley (eds.), The Structure of Nineteenth Century Cities (London, 1982), 283-98. Michael Anderson, 'Some problems in the use of census type material for the study of family and kinship systems', in E. Soderlund et al (eds.), Time, Space and Man (Stockholm, 1980), 69-80. Michael Anderson, 'The relevance of family history', in C. C. Harris (ed.), The Sociology of the Family: contemporary developments (Sociological Review Monographs, 1980), 49-73. Michael Anderson, 'The impact on the family relations of the elderly of changes since Victorian times in Governmental income maintenance provision', in E. Shanas and M. B. Sussman (eds.), Family, Bureaucracy and the Elderly (Duke University Press, 1977), 36-59. Michael Anderson, 'Sociological history and the working class family: Smelser revisited', Social History, 3 (1976), 317-34. Michael Anderson, 'Marriage patterns in Victorian Britain: an analysis based on registration district data for England and Wales, 1861', Journal of Family History, 1 (1976), 55-78. Michael Anderson, 'The study of family structure' and 'Standard tabulation procedures for the census enumerators' books, 1851-1891', both in E. A. Wrigley (ed.), Nineteenth Century Society: essays in the use of quantitative methods for the study of social data (Cambridge, 1972), 47-81, 134-45. Michael Anderson, 'Household structure and the industrial revolution: mid-nineteenth century Preston in comparative perspective', in T. P. R. Laslett and R. Wall (eds.), Household and Family in Past Time (Cambridge, 1972), 215-35. Michael Anderson, 'Urban migration in nineteenth century Lancashire: some insights into two competing hypotheses', Annales de Démographie Historique (1971), 13-26.


Other works

Michael Anderson, The 1851 Census: a national sample of the enumerators returns, Chadwyck-Healey, 1987 The raw data are now a key part of the ESRC Data Archive's electronic census holdings.