The impact of industrialization on adult mortality in Eastern Scotland, c. 1810-1861
This study investigates the links between economic and demographic variables by examining the impact of industrialization on adult mortality in eastern Scotland, c. 1810-61. Using the concept of the urban hierarchy, sixteen parishes in the counties of Angus and Fife were selected to represent different degrees of industrialization. Patterns of adult mortality in these parishes between 1810 and 1854 are then examined using data on burials from the parish registers. The results are checked by comparing them with the results obtained from an analysis of vital registration data on deaths for the period 1855-61. Thus overall trends in adult mortality are identified and then disaggregated by age, sex, cause of death and occupation. The results show that adult mortality was generally higher in the most industrialized areas. Furthermore, rates in these parishes generally increased over the period whilst in the less industrialized areas they fell. Overall most people died from infectious diseases but deaths from these causes (including tuberculosis) fell over the period. The increase in mortality appears to be in part due to a rise in deaths from respiratory diseases (especially amongst textile workers in the main industrial centres) and food- and water-borne illnesses. This suggests that industrialization had a negative impact on adult mortality rates, causing a short-term rise in mortality in the early to mid-nineteenth century. This was in part due to the direct effect industrialization had, with the shift towards textile employment probably leading to increased mortality from respiratory diseases especially amongst factory workers. The impact of industrialization also appears to have operated indirectly via the impetus it gave to urbanization and changes in the spatial distribution of the population that resulted in worsening sanitary conditions and increased exposure to infection.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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