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Det svaga könet?: kön och vuxendödlighet i 1800-talets Sverige
Linköping University, The Tema Institute. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
1999 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
The weaker sex? : gender and adult mortality in nineteenth century Sweden (English)
Abstract [en]

This study deals with mortality among adults in 19th century Sweden. Ever since the mid-eighteenth century there has been a pattern of excessive male mortality in practically all ages. The gap between the mortality curves of men and women have, however, varied greatly in time and space.

The goal is to study the shifting patterns and trends of sex specific mortality, taking into consideration variables such as age, social group and marital status in different spatial and temporal contexts. The aim is to draw a more complete picture than the one found in earlier research and to find reasonable explanations for the differences in mortality between the sexes over time.

Mortality data is based upon official statistics on the national level as well as church registration records on the local level (Linköping and Sundsvall regions). Statistical data and narrative sources, like reports of county governors and provincial doctors, are used in the causal analyses.

There are strong effects of periodicity. Early nineteenth century pre-industrial society was characterized by an exceptionally high excess male mortality in middle age. Social stress and excessive drinking may have contributed to this. The growing industrial society in the later part of the century led to the stabilizing of social conditions, and stimulated the growth of an ideal of conscientiousness and temperance among the working class. This may have influenced the continuous decline of the mortality curve for men during the second half of the century, leading to a diminshing sex differential.

"The urban penalty" was more distinct for men, which meant a higher excess male mortality in towns. Unmarried men had the most unfavourable level of mortality. Marital status differentials in health probably resulted from supportive as well as selective mechanisms of marriage.

There is no single factor which can fully explain the observed patterns and changes in sex specific mortality in 19th century Sweden, but rather it is a question of complex interaction between various structural factors: biology, socio-economic conditions, culture and the gender structure. Traditional welfare factors, such as access to economic resources, appear to have a relatively limited explanatory value for sex differentials in mortality. Gender-related behaviour and roles appear to a great extent to have influenced the sex-specific mortality patterns, especially alcohol habits, general risk-taking behavior, geographic mobility, and occupational roles. Among women of reproductive age maternal mortality was an important factor in overall mortality, influenced by the introduction of antiseptic techniques, midwifery and fertility rates.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköpings universitet , 1999. , 359 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 203
Keyword [en]
alcohol, causes of death, gender, marital status, maternal mortality, sex differential mortality, 19th Century Sweden
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-35043Local ID: 24718ISBN: 91-7219-624-6OAI: diva2:255891
Public defence
1999-11-26, Hörsal Planck, Fysikhuset, Universitetsområdet Valla, Linköping, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2009-10-10 Created: 2009-10-10 Last updated: 2013-05-29Bibliographically approved

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Willner, Sam
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The Tema InstituteFaculty of Arts and Sciences
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