Indigenous infant mortality in Sweden: the key to the health transition?

Per Axelsson, Umea University
Peter Sköld, Umea University
Len Smith, Australian National University

The Sami of northern Scandinavia have experienced a positive health development that has brought them from a high-mortality situation two hundred years ago to their present-day low-mortality profile. Their experience is not shared by other indigenous peoples around the world. This study is concerned with infant mortality, a key issue in the health transition process. Long-term infant mortality trends are analyzed in order to compare Sami and non-Sami groups in the area. Data is obtained from the world-unique Northern Population Data Base at Umeå university, and consist of digitized 18th and 19th-century parish records. These complete life biographies include ethnic markers and enable longitudinal studies of causes of death, differences in sex, age-distribution, stillbirths and legitimacy status. The results are discussed from the perspective of the source quality, methodological considerations, the health transition generally in Sweden, and the overall Sami health transition.

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Presented in Session 54: The demography of indigenous populations