The Determinants of Maternal Mortality in a Sample of German Villages (1766-1863)

Francesco Scalone, Università degli Studi di Sassari

The object of this work is to examine the determinants of maternal mortality in eighteenth- and nineteenth- century Germany, with a focus on the effects of nutritional stress before the demographic and the sanitary transition. Historians generally believe that the quality of maternal care was the strongest determinant of maternal mortality and malnutrition could play only a limited role. This study tests this assumption using an event history approach to assess the effects of short term nutritional crises on maternal mortality during and immediately after childbirth in six historical villages. Preliminary results show that the hazard ratio of maternal death increases significantly one year after an economic stress, confirming that maternal mortality was tightly related to the malnutrition caused by famines or bad harvests. The analysis demonstrates that farmers were more protected from this effect than other socioeconomic groups, whereas rural proletarians were more strongly affected.

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Presented in Session 166: Maternal Mortality: Trends and Correlates