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Mortality differentials within large American cities in 1890


This article presents a multiple regression analysis of demographic and social data for 335 wards in 17 American cities in 1890. The most important findings are: (1) Density effects on mortality were uniformly positive and statistically significant; the magnitude of these effects was much greater for child mortality than for adult mortality; and child mortality was more sensitive to persons per dwelling than to persons per acre. (2) Unsanitary conditions, as measured by the city-specific typhoid fever death rate, significantly increased mortality and child mortality was much more sensitive in this respect than adult mortality. (3) Given the same age composition and population density, foreign-born whites, native-born whites, and the colored population had about the same adult death rate.

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Higgs, R., Booth, D. Mortality differentials within large American cities in 1890. Hum Ecol 7, 353–370 (1979).

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Key words

  • mortality
  • population density
  • sanitation
  • cities