Volume 39 - Article 18 | Pages 525–560  

Neonatal mortality, cold weather, and socioeconomic status in two northern Italian rural parishes, 1820–1900

By Francesco Scalone, Alessandra Samoggia

Abstract

Background: Cold-related conditions represent one of the most common causes of neonatal death in many developing countries. The effects of cold external temperatures on neonatal mortality at the onset of demographic transition recently have attracted scholarly interest.

Objective: First, we aim to study the effects of cold temperatures on neonatal mortality at the onset of demographic transition, focusing on two Italian rural parishes between 1820 and 1900. Second, we aim to assess whether the effects vary according to socioeconomic status (SES), especially among the most vulnerable social groups.

Methods: We apply logistic regression and discrete-time event history analysis using micro-data from parish registers and daily records of external temperature.

Results: The risk of death during the first month of life varied according to external temperature’s variation and to socioeconomic status, demonstrating that neonates born to landless rural labourers generally suffered a higher neonatal mortality risk during winter and, more specifically; in case of low temperature at the childbirth during coldest months.

Conclusions: The risk of neonatal death increased as external temperatures decreased. The clear influence of temperature on the day of birth suggests that low temperatures on the day of birth exerted a fundamental scarring effect on children’s survival. We also find significant differences in neonatal mortality by SES, resulting in more pronounced effects from season and temperature in rural proletarian families. The results show that during the second half of the 19th century characterised by intense socioeconomic transformations, rural proletarians experienced a clear worsening of living conditions.

Contribution: The results show that during the second half of the nineteenth century characterised by intense socio-economic transformations, rural proletarians experienced a clear worsening of living conditions.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Does socioeconomic status matter? The fertility transition in a northern Italian village (marriage cohorts 1900‒1940)
Volume 37 - Article 15

Religious affiliation and child mortality in Ireland: A country-wide analysis based on the 1911 Census
Volume 50 - Article 14

Variations in male height during the epidemiological transition in Italy: A cointegration approach
Volume 48 - Article 7

Social class and net fertility before, during, and after the demographic transition: A micro-level analysis of Sweden 1880-1970
Volume 30 - Article 15

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

Uncovering disability-free grandparenthood in Italy between 1998 and 2016 using gender-specific decomposition
Volume 50 - Article 42    | Keywords: aging, decomposition, disability, grandparenthood, Italy

The effect of migration and time spent abroad on migrants’ health: A home/host country perspective
Volume 50 - Article 37    | Keywords: Albania, health, Italy, migrants, propensity score

Religious affiliation and child mortality in Ireland: A country-wide analysis based on the 1911 Census
Volume 50 - Article 14    | Keywords: child mortality, indirect estimation methods, Ireland, literacy, OLS regressions, place of residence, religious affiliation, socioeconomic status

Ageing and diversity: Inequalities in longevity and health in low-mortality countries
Volume 50 - Article 12    | Keywords: aging, health, lifespan inequality, longevity, old-age threshold, regional differences, socioeconomic status

Variations in male height during the epidemiological transition in Italy: A cointegration approach
Volume 48 - Article 7    | Keywords: cointegration analysis, early life conditions, height, historical demography, infant survival, time series