‘British Society and Economic Life’ considers the significant changes in conditions in the seventeenth century. Before 1650, relentless population growth resulted in subsistence crises, chronic underemployment, inflation, and land enclosures. After 1650, a small population decline was accompanied by improvements in agricultural productivity, development of national and international markets and the growth of towns. Emigration, as well as domestic migration, remained a feature all century. Changes in the distribution of wealth also took place: in the first half of the century it was the larger farmers who flourished, whereas the second half of the century saw the growth of the mercantile and professional classes.