We’ve published two new working papers.
First, in a paper we’ll submit for review after the summer, Luciana Quaranta, Therese Nilsson and I have explored the long-term consequences of exposure to high disease load in early life for women’s fertility. We’ve looked at a set of indicators such as the birthweight of children, sex ratio at birth (how many boys and girls were born), twinning, and miscarriages. We find evidence that women born in year with high infant mortality (indicating a higher exposure to serious infectious disease in the first year of life) gave birth to fewer boys, who were more likely to be born pre-term, and at higher birthweights. Exposed women might be more likely to have sex-specific spontaneous abortions. In line with this idea, we find that exposed women had a higher likelihood of having had miscarriages and stillbirths. But they don’t have lower fertility over all – maybe because this is a population with birth control where specific family sizes can be targeted.
Second, in a forthcoming chapter Luciana Quaranta, Volha Lazuka and I discuss improvements in infant and maternal health in Sweden in the 20th century. We’ve looked into the factors that helped reduce infant mortality rates. We describe the timeline of when certain medical innovations arrived in Landskrona and it’s rural hinterland, and of changes in how institutional care of pregnant women, young mothers, and care around childbirth was organized. We find that modern healthcare, especially the opening of maternity wards, contributed to the reduction of infant mortality in the town. Nevertheless, mortality rates in the early 20th century were already very low for that period and from an international perspective, possibly because of how midwifery was organized in Sweden.