Policy Papers

History & Policy papers are written by expert historians, based on peer-reviewed research. They offer historical insights into current policy issues ranging from Afghanistan and Iraq, climate change and internet surveillance to family dynamics, alcohol consumption and health reforms. For historians interested in submitting a paper, please see the editorial guidelines.

Currently, 249 papers are freely searchable by theme, author or keyword, with new papers published regularly. Where possible, we publish papers to coincide with relevant policy developments. If you are a policy maker, civil society practitioner or journalist and would like to contact one of our historians, please contact historyandpolicy@london.ac.uk.

You can download H&P policy papers directly from the Apple iBooks store to your iPhone, iPad or Mac. We also have an Amazon Kindle version to download to your PC for transfer to your Kindle via USB cable. Please consult your Kindle manual for further details.

The right of registration: development, identity registration and social security

Many of the world's poorest countries have no comprehensive identity systems, seen as an unaffordable post-development luxury. English history shows how a comprehensive identity registration system, linked also to a universalist social security system were important causes, not merely consequences of the first industrial revolution. History also cautions that identity registration systems are such powerful tools that great care should be devoted to the ethical aspects of access and control of the information to ensure it serves the liberty of private individuals, not the purposes of commercial organisations or states.

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Health and Wealth

From a human health perspective the process of rapid economic growth needs to be understood as a profoundly disruptive and uncertain process. Public health information is essential for controlling the most challenging aspects, but is so often lacking in poor countries. Another key to managing health and environmental problems created by economic and demographic growth is strong representative and resourced local government and civic society, incentivised but not simply directed to act by the central state. History also shows that to be effective, policies require strategies for time horizons of at least 20-30 years, not 5-year electoral cycles.

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A central role for local government? The example of late Victorian Britain

With a dominant free market ideology, Britain by the 1860s had experienced several decades of rising social inequality and restricted resources for public services and local government. However, between 1865 and 1875 the prestige of local government was revolutionised and a model for popular, effective public services was developed by provincial business and community leaders. This flowering of British civic activism contributed to a massive improvement in urban health by 1914, with local government expenditure outstripping central government. History suggest that in the twenty-first century re-invigoration of independently-resourced elected local democracy is a key to reducing inequality and poverty.

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About Us

H&P is based at the Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, University of London.

We are the only project in the UK providing access to an international network of more than 500 historians with a broad range of expertise. H&P offers a range of resources for historians, policy makers and journalists.

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