Infant Mortality Decline in Bavaria: Sanitary Improvement and Inequality in Munich, 1825-1909

John Brown, Clark University
Timothy Guinnane, Yale University

A high infant mortality regime characterized much of the German Kingdom of Bavaria during the long nineteenth century, including the city of Munich. Infant mortality in all of Bavaria declined slowly in rural areas until World War I. In urban areas, the decline was much more impressive with the median falling by one-half by 1913. The decline in Munich was even more dramatic. This paper examines the causes of infant mortality in rural and urban Bavaria and in Munich. The analysis of Bavaria examines district-level data for the period 1880 through 1910. The examination of Munich is for the period 1825-1910, which is a period of substantial economic and social change as well as sanitary reform. Patterns of land distribution, fertility and sanitary provision all play a role in accounting for the decline in infant mortality. The study uncovered growing discrepancies across social groups as decline set in Munich.

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Presented in Session 86: Health and Mortality in Historical Perspective