Biohistory Seminar: "Urban mortality in 19th century Denmark" – University of Copenhagen

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Biohistory Seminar: "Urban mortality in 19th century Denmark"

Catalina Torres will present her ongoing doctoral research on the urban penalty in Denmark during the 19th century. Among Nordic countries, which generally had a low urbanization rate in comparison with other parts of Europe, Denmark was the most urbanized, and this process was specially fast at the end of the 19th century. And at that time, living in a city was highly detrimental for health, as several studies about different European and North American populations have shown.

This excess mortality in the cities, commonly referred to as the urban penalty, has been typically identified by significantly higher Crude Death Rate and Infant Mortality Rate but also in life expectancy at birth. And, as computations of life expectancy at the national level are affected by the lower life expectancy of urban areas, it is possible that countries would have had higher life expectancy at birth during at least some periods than we think.

Thus, her work aims to measure that contribution of urban mortality to overall levels of life expectancy by using age- and cause- decomposition method of differences in life expectancy by by using data from Statistics Denmark (1905).