Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Immigration, wealth and the ‘mortality plateau’ in emergent industrial cities of nineteenth-century Massachusetts


The mortality transition in Western Europe and the United States encompassed a much more complex set of conditions and experiences than earlier thought. Our research addresses the complex set of relationships among growing urban communities, family wealth, immigration and mortality in New England by examining individual-level, sociodemographic mortality correlates during the nineteenth-century mortality plateau and its early twentieth-century decline. In contrast to earlier theories that proposed a more uniform mortality transition, we offer an alternative hypothesis that focuses on the impact of family wealth and immigration on individual-level mortality during the early stages of the mortality transition in Northampton and Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Immigration, fortune et „ plateau de mortalité “ au dix-neuvième siècle, dans les villes industrielles émergentes du Massachusetts

La transition de la mortalité en Europe occidentale et aux États-Unis a corres-pondu à la conjonction d'un ensemble beaucoup plus complexe de conditions et d'expériences qu'on ne le pensait précédemment. Notre recherche aborde justement ce jeu subtil d'éléments interactifs entre communautés urbaines en croissance, fortune familiale, immigration et mortalité en Nouvelle-Angleterre, en examinant les types de corrélations à la fois au niveau individuel et socio-démographique tout au long du plateau de mortalité observé au cours du dix-neuvième siècle et lors du déclin de la mortalité qui suivit au début du vingtième siècle. Contrastant avec les théories antérieures qui proposaient un modèle uniforme de transition de la mortalité, nous offrons une hypothèse alternative mettant en avant le rôle de la fortune familiale et de l'immigration sur la mortalité individuelle pendant les stades précoces de la transition de mortalité à Northampton et Holyoke, au Massachusetts.

Einwanderung, Vermögen und das „Sterblichkeitsplateau“ in den entstehenden Industriestädten von Massachusetts im 19. Jahrhundert

Der Sterblichkeitsübergang in Westeuropa und den Vereinigten Staaten umfasste ein sehr viel komplexeres Bündel von Bedingungen und Erfahrungen als man früher gedacht hat. Um die komplexen Beziehungen zwischen Familienvermögen, Einwanderung und Sterblichkeit in den wachsenden Städten in Neuengland anzugehen, untersuchen wir einzelfallbasierte sozial-ökonomische Mortalitätskorrelate, die das Mortalitätsplateau im 19. Jahrhundert und den anschließenden Mortalitätsrückgang im frühen 20. Jahrhundert umfassen. Im Gegensatz zu früheren Theorien, die von einem eher gleichförmigen Sterblichkeitsübergang ausgingen, schlagen wir für die Frühstadien des Sterblichkeitsübergangs in Northampton und Holyoke (beide in Massachusetts) eine alternative Hypothese vor, die besonderes Gewicht auf den Einfluss des Familienvermögens und der Einwanderung auf die individuelle Sterblichkeit legt.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Douglas L. Anderton and Susan Hautaniemi Leonard, ‘Grammars of death: an analysis of nineteenth-century literal causes of death from the age of miasmas to germ theory’, Social Science History 28, 1 (2004), 111–43

Jeffrey K. Beemer, Douglas L. Anderton and Susan Hautaniemi Leonard, ‘Sewers in the city: a case study of individual-level mortality and public health initiatives in Northampton, Massachusetts at the turn of the century’, Journal of the History of Medicine and the Allied Sciences 60, 1 (2005), 4272

Susan I. Hautaniemi, Alan C. Swedlund and Douglas L. Anderton, ‘Mill town mortality: consequences of industrial growth in two nineteenth-century New England towns’, Social Science History 23, 1 (1999), 139

Gretchen A. Condran and Eileen Crimmins-Gardner, ‘Public health measures and mortality in U.S. cities in the late nineteenth century’, Human Ecology 6, 1 (1978), 2754

David M. Cutler and Grant Miller, ‘The role of public health improvements in health advances: the twentieth-century United States’, Demography 42, 1 (2005), 122

Robert Higgs, ‘Cycles and trends of mortality in 18 large American cities, 1871–1900’, Explorations in Economic History 16, 4 (1979), 381408

Margaret Humphreys, ‘No safe place: disease and panic in American history’, American Literary History 14, 4 (2002), 845–57

Samuel H. Preston and Michael R. Haines, ‘New estimates of child mortality in the United States in 1900’, Journal of the American Statistical Association 79, 396 (1984), 272–81

Evelyn M. Kitagawa and Philip M. Hauser, Differential mortality in the United States: a study in socio-economic epidemiology (Cambridge, MA, 1973)

François Pelletier, Jacques Légaré and Robert Bourbeau, ‘Mortality in Quebec during the nineteenth century: from the state to the cities’, Population Studies 51, 1 (1997), 93103

Eileen M. Crimmins and Gretchen A. Condran, ‘Mortality variations in U.S. cities in 1900’, Social Science History 7, 1 (1983), 3159

Robert Higgs and David Booth, ‘Mortality differentials within large American cities in 1890’, Human Ecology 7, 4 (1979), 353–70

Michael R. Haines and Samuel H. Preston, ‘The use of the census to estimate childhood mortality’, Historical Methods 30, 2 (1997), 7896

Cheryl Elman and George Myers, ‘Age and sex differentials in morbidity at the start of an epidemiological transition: returns from the 1880 U.S. census’, Social Science and Medicine 45, 6 (1997), 943–56

Ingrid Waldron, ‘Recent trends in sex mortality ratios for adults in developed countries’, Social Science and Medicine 36, 4 (1993), 451–62

Samuel H. Preston, Mortality patterns in national populations (New York, 1976)

Robert W. Fogel and Dora L. Costa, ‘A theory of technophysio evolution, with some implications for forecasting population, health care costs, and pension costs’, Demography 34, 1 (1997), 4966

Aaron Antonovsky, ‘Social class, life expectancy, and overall mortality’, Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly 45, 2 (1967), 3173

Robert Higgs, ‘Mortality in rural America, 1870–1920: estimates and conjectures’, Explorations in Economic History 10, 2 (1973), 177–95

Michael R. Haines, ‘Mortality in nineteenth century America: estimates from New York and Pennsylvania census data, 1865 and 1900’, Demography 14, 3 (1977), 311–31

Edward Meeker, ‘The improving health of the United States, 1800–1915’, Explorations in Economic History 9, 4 (1972), 353–73

John B. McKinlay and Sonja M. McKinlay, ‘The questionable contribution of medical measures to the decline of mortality in the United States in the twentieth century’, Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly. Health and Society 55, 3 (1977), 405–28

Scott Smith, ‘Differential mortality in the United States before 1900’, Journal of Interdisciplinary History 13, 4 (1983), 735–59

Gretchen A. Condran and Rose A. Cheney, ‘Mortality trends in Philadelphia: age- and cause-specific death rates 1870–1930’, Demography 19, 1 (1982), 97123

Samuel H. Preston and Etienne van de Walle, ‘Urban French mortality in the nineteenth century’, Population Studies 32, 2 (1978), 275–97

Simon Szreter, ‘The importance of social intervention in Britain's mortality decline, c. 1850–1914: a re-interpretation of the role of public health’, Social History of Medicine 1, 1 (1988), 138

Simon Szreter and Graham Mooney, ‘Urbanization, mortality, and the standard of living debate: new estimates of the expectation of life at birth in nineteenth-century British cities’, Economic History Review 51, 1 (1998), 84112

Michael E. Mercier and Christopher G. Boone, ‘Infant mortality in Ottawa, Canada, 1901: assessing cultural, economic and environmental factors’, Journal of Historical Geography 28, 4 (2002), 486507

Patricia Thornton and Sherry Olson, ‘Mortality in late nineteenth-century Montreal: geographic pathways of contagion’, Population Studies 65, 2 (2011), 157–81

Samuel H. Preston, ‘Population studies of mortality’, Population Studies 50, 3 (1996), 525–36

James C. Riley, ‘Disease without death: new sources for a history of sickness’, Journal of Interdisciplinary History 17, 3 (1987), 537–63

Lois M. Verbrugge, ‘The twain meet: empirical explanations of sex differences in health and mortality’, Journal of Health and Social Behavior 30, 3 (1989), 282304

Woods, ‘On the historical relationship between infant and adult mortality’, Population Studies 47, 2 (1993), 195219

Chulhee Lee, ‘Socioeconomic background, disease, and mortality among Union Army recruits: implications for economic and demographic history’, Explorations in Economic History 34, 1 (1997), 2755

Jeffrey K. Beemer, ‘Diagnostic prescriptions: shifting boundaries in nineteenth-century disease and cause-of-death classification’, Social Science History 33, 3 (2009), 307–40

Susan I. Hautaniemi, Douglas L. Anderton and Alan C. Swedlund, ‘Methods and validity of a panel study using record linkage: matching death records to a geographic census sample in two Massachusetts towns, 1850–1912’, Historical Methods 33, 1 (2000), 129

Richard H. Steckel and Carolyn M. Moehling, ‘Rising inequality: trends in the distribution of wealth in industrializing New England’, Journal of Economic History 61, 1 (2001), 160–83

Richard H. Steckel, ‘Census manuscript schedules matched with property tax lists’, Historical Methods 27, 2 (1994), 7185

Gérard Bouchard, Patrick Brard and Yolande Lavoie, ‘FONEM: un code de transcription phonétique pour la reconstitution automatique des familles Saguenayennes’, Population 36, 6 (1981), 1085–103

Charles Harvey, Edmund M. Green and Penelope J. Corfield, ‘Record linkage theory and practice: an experiment in the application of multiple pass linkage algorithms’, History and Computing 8, 2 (1996), 7889

Charles Harvey and Edmund M. Green, ‘Record linkage algorithms: efficiency, selection and relative confidence’, History and Computing 6, 3 (1994), 143–52

Ian Winchester, ‘What every historical needs to know about record linkage for the microcomputer era’, Historical Methods 25, 2 (1992), 149–65

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Continuity and Change
  • ISSN: 0268-4160
  • EISSN: 1469-218X
  • URL: /core/journals/continuity-and-change
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *