Volume 30 - Article 68 | Pages 1849-1864

Spatial inequalities in infant survival at an early stage of the longevity revolution: A pan-European view across 5000+ regions and localities in 1910

By Sebastian Klüsener, Isabelle Devos, Peter Ekamper, Ian Gregory, Siegfried Gruber, Jordi Martí-Henneberg, Frans van Poppel, Luís Silveira, Arne Solli

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Date received:05 Aug 2013
Date published:12 Jun 2014
Word count:2500
Keywords:early 20th century, Europe, human development, infant mortality, longevity revolution, spatial inequalities


Background: Spatial inequalities in human development are of great concern to international organisations and national governments. Demographic indicators like the infant mortality rate are important measures for determining these inequalities. Using demographic indicators over long time periods at relatively high levels of geographical detail, we can examine the long-term continuities and changes in spatial inequalities.

Objective: This paper presents the initial outcomes of a larger project that aims to analyse spatial variation in infant survival across Europe over the last 100 years. In this paper, we focus on spatial disparities in infant survival in 1910. At that time, the longevity revolution was still at an early stage. We look at general spatial variation patterns within and across countries, and discuss some of the challenges related to the comparativeness of the data.

Methods: We link official infant mortality data from more than 5,000 European regions and localities for the period around 1910 to a European historical GIS of administrative boundaries. The data are analysed using descriptive spatial analysis techniques.

Results: In 1910, a number of countries in northern and western Europe led the longevity revolution in Europe, with the area of low infant mortality also extending into the northwestern parts of the German Empire. Other areas with low infant mortality levels included the Belgian region of Wallonia, most parts of Switzerland, as well as central and south-western France. In eastern and southern Europe, we find significant variation within and across countries, which might stem in part from data quality problems.

Author's Affiliation

Sebastian Klüsener - Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Germany [Email]
Isabelle Devos - Ghent University, Belgium [Email]
Peter Ekamper - Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI-KNAW), Netherlands [Email]
Ian Gregory - Lancaster University, United Kingdom [Email]
Siegfried Gruber - Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Germany [Email]
Jordi Martí-Henneberg - Universitat de Lleida, Spain [Email]
Frans van Poppel - Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute, Netherlands [Email]
Luís Silveira - University of Lisboa, Portugal [Email]
Arne Solli - University of Bergen, Norway [Email]

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