The Decline of Infant Mortality in Europe, 1800-1950: Four national case studies

Historical Perspectives 2

  • Format
  • Author(s)
    • Corsini, Carlo A.;
    • Viazzo, Pier Paolo;
  • Publisher
    • UNICEF ICDC, Florence
  • Date of Publication
    • 1993
  • Pages
    • 86
  • ISBN
    • 88-85401-14-7
  • IRC Stock Number
    • 32U
  • Publication Cost
    • free
  • Language
    • English


The basic facts about the secular decline of infant mortality in Europe have been known for nearly a century. Regristration series show that the levels of infant mortality in the late nineteenth century were still extremely high and could vary quite markedly from one country to another, ranging from about 100 per 1,000 live births in Norway and Sweden to 200 or even 250 per 1,000 in countries such as Germany, Austria and Russia. At the turn of the century, however, infant mortality began to fall almost right across the continent. By the 1950s, when national rates of infant mortality ranged between 20 and 50 per 1,000, the process of convergence was nearly completed. The fall in infant mortality, which was paralelled by a simultaneous and equally pronounced decline in fertility, was responsible for raising life expectancy in many European countries by more than 10 years over a remarkably short period of time. The countries reviewed in this publication are Sweden, England, France and Austria.


Thematic area

Early Childhood   / 


child development   /  health policy   /  historical analysis   /  infant mortality   /  social policy   /