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Factors influencing infant mortality in western Europe during the eighteenth and nineteenth centurie

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  • Essay length: 2796 words
  • Submitted: 19/06/2006
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Factors influencing infant mortality in western Europe during the eighteenth and nineteenth centurie

"Twenty years ago our knowledge of the decline in western mortality was fairly rudimentary" (Tedebrand, 1988, p7). Since then historical demographers have religiously reconstructed families from pre-1837 parish registers and collected post-1837 data from the census/civil registration to examine population characteristics for a variety of western countries. The results have shown that up until the end of the nineteenth century mortality throughout the whole of Europe was extremely high. They have also highlighted the enormous contribution infant deaths have made to this total. Consequently, much research has been done into the determinants of infant mortality as an important mechanism in demographic theory.

This essay attempts to review some of the influential factors identified in the infant mortality literature. No attempt is made to distinguish between those that explain inter- and intra-regional trends or those that supposedly initiate widespread change. Instead, all are included on the basis that they have had some effect on infant mortality. It is hoped that approaching the subject in this way will allow the diversity and interrelationships that exist between them to shine through and that, in the process, monocausal

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