Religious differentials in infant and child mortality in Holland, 1855-1912

Frans Van Poppel*, Jona Schellekens, Aart C. Liefbroer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


At least three kinds of hypothesis may be invoked to interpret religious differentials in mortality. They are (i) hypotheses that refer to characteristics, (ii) those that refer to lifestyle, and (iii) those that refer to the social isolation of minorities. This paper tests all three kinds of hypothesis using data on urban child mortality from The Hague just before and during the demographic transition. A hazard analysis suggests that economic and demographic characteristics do not account for much of the variation by religion. An analysis of seasonal mortality suggests that some of the variation may be explained by differences in lifestyle. The third kind of hypothesis is presented here for the first time. We suggest that the social isolation of small religious groups lowered their exposure to certain kinds of infectious disease. We use a simulation study to show that this hypothesis could account for part of the variation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)277-289
Number of pages13
JournalPopulation Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The data on which this research is based were collected for a research project entitled ‘Religion and child mortality in Holland 1860-1920’. Financial assistance from the Wellcome Trust is gratefully acknowledged. Part of the research for this paper was supported by a grant from the Israel Science Foundation, administered by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, for a research project entitled ‘Explaining religious differences during the Demographic Transition in Holland: How different were the Jews and Why?’ The authors thank Dov Friedlander and Barbara Okun for helpful comments on an earlier version.


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