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Infant mortality of Sami and settlers in Northern Sweden: the era of colonization 1750–1900

Author(s): Peter Sköld | Per Axelsson | Lena Karlsson | Len Smith

Journal: Global Health Action
ISSN 1654-9880

Volume: 4;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: infant mortality | indigenous | Sami | seasonality | parity | demography | vulnerability

The study deals with infant mortality (IMR) that is one of the most important aspects of indigenous vulnerability. Background: The Sami are one of very few indigenous peoples with an experience of a positive mortality transition. Objective: Using unique mortality data from the period 1750–1900 Sami and the colonizers in northern Sweden are compared in order to reveal an eventual infant mortality transition. Findings: The results show ethnic differences with the Sami having higher IMR, although the differences decrease over time. There were also geographical and cultural differences within the Sami, with significantly lower IMR among the South Sami. Generally, parity has high explanatory value, where an increased risk is noted for children born as number five or higher among siblings. Conclusion: There is a striking trend of decreasing IMR among the Sami after 1860, which, however, was not the result of professional health care. Other indigenous peoples of the Arctic still have higher mortality rates, and IMR below 100 was achieved only after 1950 in most countries. The decrease in Sami infant mortality was certainly an important factor in their unique health transition, but the most significant change occurred after 1900.
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