IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/exehis/v49y2012i3p277-290.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Smallpox and Native American mortality: The 1780s epidemic in the Hudson Bay region

Author

Listed:
  • Carlos, Ann M.
  • Lewis, Frank D.

Abstract

The smallpox epidemic of 1781–82 in the Hudson Bay region is said to have devastated the native population, causing mortality of at least 50%. We reassess this claim using a four-pronged approach. First, we total smallpox deaths reported by two fur trading posts that were in the midst of the epidemic. Second, we review case fatality rates in other smallpox outbreaks, and discuss the likely incidence of the disease among Native Americans. Third, we analyse trade during the period of the epidemic. Fourth, we estimate the native population prior to the epidemic based on the carrying capacity of the region. All four approaches lead to a similar conclusion. Mortality from smallpox was likely under 20%, which is much less than previously asserted.

Suggested Citation

  • Carlos, Ann M. & Lewis, Frank D., 2012. "Smallpox and Native American mortality: The 1780s epidemic in the Hudson Bay region," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 277-290.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:49:y:2012:i:3:p:277-290
    DOI: 10.1016/j.eeh.2012.04.003
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014498312000162
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Carlos, Ann M. & Lewis, Frank D., 1993. "Indians, the Beaver, and the Bay: The Economics of Depletion in the Lands of the Hudson's Bay Company, 1700–1763," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 53(03), pages 465-494, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Donna Feir & Rob Gillezeau & Maggie Jones, 2017. "The Slaughter of the North American Bison and Reversal of Fortunes on the Great Plains," Department Discussion Papers 1701, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
    2. Sumner La Croix, 2016. "The Decline of the Khoikhoi Population, 1652-1780: A Review and a New Estimate," Working Papers 201622, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Smallpox; Native Americans; Fur trade; Population; Health;

    JEL classification:

    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:49:y:2012:i:3:p:277-290. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622830 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.