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The Decline of Infant Mortality in Europe, 1800-1950: Four national case studies


  • Pier Paolo Viazzo
  • Carlo A. Corsini


The basic facts about the secular decline of infant mortality in Europe have been known for nearly a century. Regristration series show that the levels of infant mortality in the late nineteenth century were still extremely high and could vary quite markedly from one country to another, ranging from about 100 per 1,000 live births in Norway and Sweden to 200 or even 250 per 1,000 in countries such as Germany, Austria and Russia. At the turn of the century, however, infant mortality began to fall almost right across the continent. By the 1950s, when national rates of infant mortality ranged between 20 and 50 per 1,000, the process of convergence was nearly completed. The fall in infant mortality, which was paralelled by a simultaneous and equally pronounced decline in fertility, was responsible for raising life expectancy in many European countries by more than 10 years over a remarkably short period of time. The countries reviewed in this publication are Sweden, England, France and Austria.

Suggested Citation

  • Pier Paolo Viazzo & Carlo A. Corsini, 1993. "The Decline of Infant Mortality in Europe, 1800-1950: Four national case studies," Papers hisper93/3, Historical Perspectives.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucf:hisper:hisper93/3

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    More about this item


    child development; health policy; historical analysis; infant mortality; social policy;

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913


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