Season of birth and early childhood mortality: a review of the debate and a case study for the Netherlands, 1812-1912

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Historically, all components of demography – migration, fertility, nuptial-
ity and mortality – were strongly affected by the seasons of the year. Re-
ligious prescriptions, weather conditions, the production cycle in
agriculture and other sectors of the economy, the availability of food, all
had an effect on the propensity of people to marry, to reproduce, to leave
their place of living, and to die. Long-term changes in these active forces
may have altered this seasonal patterning, but seasonality is still clearly
visible in most demographic indicators. An enormous number of mostly
local studies have become available on marriage, birth, and death season-
ality. What has been lacking until now is a study in which these different
demographic processes are analyzed within a common framework. Theo
Engelen’s new project ‘The Rhythm of Life’ is intended to do just that. Theo
has, in his long career, worked on a variety of demographic developments
and has shown a great sensitivity for the role that economic and cultural
forces play in determining the outcome of these developments. He is
therefore the right person to offer us a comprehensive framework for the
study of the relationship between the passing of the seasons and demo-
graphic processes. The four seasons of the year are often used as an alle-
gory of the human life course and we hope for a long harvesting season
for Theo.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBuilding Bridges. Scholars, History and Historical Demography
Subtitle of host publicationA Festschrift in Honor of Professor Theo Engelen
PublisherValkhof Pers
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


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