Volume 28 - Article 16 | Pages 433–456

Indigenous life expectancy in Sweden 1850-1899: Towards a long and healthy life?

By Lena Karlsson

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Date received:12 Sep 2012
Date published:08 Mar 2013
Word count:5751
Keywords:colonization, infant mortality, life expectancy, Sami
DOI:10.4054/DemRes.2013.28.16
 

Abstract

Background: Previous research has shown that the health transition and demographical pattern of indigenous people has followed a different path compared to non-indigenous groups living in the same area with higher mortality rates and shortened life expectancy at birth.

Objective: This paper draws attention to the development of life expectancy for the Sami and non-Sami during the colonization era (1850-1899). The paper will compare the development of life expectancy levels, infant mortality, and age-specific mortality between the Sami and the non-Sami population and analyze the main causes of death.

Methods: The source material for this study is a set of data files from the Demographic Data Base (DDB) at Umeå University. Life tables and calculations of values of life expectancies are calculated using period data.

Results: The analysis reveals that the life expectancy at birth was remarkably lower for the Sami during the entire period, corresponding to a high infant mortality. When comparing life expectancy at birth with life expectancy at age one, Sami still had a lower life expectancy during the entire period. The analysis also reveals a lower proportion of deaths due to infections among the younger Sami.

Conclusions: The results paint a complex picture of the demographic transition in Sápmi. Neither the Sami nor the non-Sami population followed the same pattern of increased life expectancies at birth, as the Swedish population did in general. The negative consequences of colonization (high mortality, low life expectancy at birth) hit the Sami and non-Sami populations, but at different time periods.

Comments: The study includes the two northern parishes of Gällivare and Jukkasjärvi.

Author's Affiliation

Lena Karlsson - Umeå Universitet, Sweden [Email]

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