Health and Sickness in Europe, 1600–1870

  • James C. Riley


La mort ne pourra être appréhendée de manière satisfaisante que par l’étude globale de la morbidité.l [Death can only be satisfactorily understood by the comprehensive study of morbidity.]

The history of mortality in Europe from 1600 to 1870 can be told as a story of descent on an uneven slope. This era opened with crude mortality rates ranging between about 25 and 40 per 1000 per year, clustering at or above 30, in the regions so far studied. Between the middle of the seventeenth and the middle of the eighteenth century it is possible to detect signs of lower death rates, but the signs of decline do not become especially strong until the 1740s. For some sixty to eighty years thereafter, until about 1820, the descent was sharp and the crude death rate fell to about 20 per 1000 per annum. The decline ceased in the 1820s and did not begin again until the 1870s. Crude mortality rates are only an approximate guide, but they identify three broad mortality regimes: high, until about 1740; intermediate, circa 1740 to about 1870; and low, since about 1870.


Eighteenth Century Typhoid Fever Rheumatic Fever Case Fatality Rate Rheumatic Heart Disease 
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Copyright information

© James C. Riley 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • James C. Riley
    • 1
  1. 1.Indiana UniversityUSA

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