Volume 50 - Article 14 | Pages 393–410  

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

By Lucia Pozzi, Francesco Scalone, Michail Raftakis, Liam Kennedy


Background: Previous studies have identified a link between religious affiliation and child mortality, yet the underlying factors that contributed to this association are not fully understood.

Objective: This study investigates how religious affiliation impacted child mortality in early 20th century Ireland, controlling for socioeconomic status, literacy, and place of residence at both the individual and contextual level.

Methods: We utilize the 1911 IPUMS Irish census, indirect techniques, and regression analysis to examine the role of religious affiliation in child mortality. We therefore perform various OLS regressions, controlling for demographic factors and socioeconomic conditions at both the individual and contextual level, as well as for the three major religious groups.

Results: Our results indicate striking differences in child mortality rates among the three major religious denominations in Ireland in the early 20th century. Catholics recorded the highest child mortality rates, followed by Church of Ireland families, while Presbyterians experienced the best child mortality outcomes. These differences are explained in part by the varying socioeconomic characteristics of each religious group, but religious affiliation is also shown to have mattered. For reasons that are not altogether clear, Jewish communities had lower child mortality rates than the major religious denominations.

Conclusions: Our study highlights the complex interplay between religious affiliation, socioeconomic factors, and child mortality in Ireland in the early 1900s. Our findings reveal a significant association between religious affiliation and child mortality, which persists even after controlling for certain individual socioeconomic characteristics and contextual factors.

Contribution: By utilising the 1911 Irish census data and indirect estimation techniques, the study provides a new perspective on child mortality and its relationship with diverse religious affiliations.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

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

Neonatal mortality, cold weather, and socioeconomic status in two northern Italian rural parishes, 1820–1900
Volume 39 - Article 18

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

Demographic characteristics of Sardinian centenarian genealogies: Preliminary results of the AKeA2 study
Volume 32 - Article 37

Maternal longevity is associated with lower infant mortality
Volume 31 - Article 42

Socioeconomic status and fertility before, during, and after the demographic transition: An introduction
Volume 31 - Article 7

Fertility transition and social stratification in the town of Alghero, Sardinia (1866-1935)
Volume 30 - Article 28

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

Losing the female survival advantage: Sex differentials in infant and child mortality in Pakistan
Volume 50 - Article 15    | Keywords: child mortality, family, gender discrimination, Pakistan, sex differentials, son preference, South Asia, survival analysis

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

The dynamic role of household structure on under-5 mortality in southern and eastern sub-Saharan Africa
Volume 49 - Article 11    | Keywords: child mortality, Health and Demographic Surveillance System, household structure, sub-Saharan Africa

Fertility among better-off women in sub-Saharan Africa: Nearing late transition levels across the region
Volume 46 - Article 29    | Keywords: education, fertility, fertility differentials, international comparison, socioeconomic status, sub-Saharan Africa

Slow-downs of fertility decline: When should we call it a 'fertility stall'?
Volume 46 - Article 26    | Keywords: child mortality, demographic transition, development, female education, fertility stall, population, population policies, sub-Saharan Africa