Demography: Deaths


Reasons for decline in death rate (Overview)

Tranter (1996) = 1850-1960 fall in deaths from infectious diseases like measles, smallpox etc and these were comon in the young

By 1950s, 'diseases of affluence' like heart disease & cancers replaced infecious diseases as main cause of death (affected middle aged & old more than young)

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Improved nutrition

Thomas KcKeown (1972) = improved nutrition accounted for up to 1/2 reduction in death rates. Better nutrition increased resistance to infection & increased survival chances of those infected

However.. this doesn't explain why females, who had smaller share of family food supply, lived longer than males. He also fails to explain why deaths from some infectious disease, actually rose at a tiime of improving nutrition e.g. measiles and infant diarrhoea

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Medical improvements

After 1950s, improved medical knowledge, techniques and organisation = helped reduce death rates

Advances like blood transfusion, antibiotics, and NHS in 1948

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Smoking and diet

Harper = greatest fall in death rates recently is from reduction in number of people smoking. However, in 21st century, obesity has replaced smoking as new lifestyle epidemic e.g. in 2012, 1/4 of all UK adults were obese

However deaths from obesity have been kept low due to drug therapies

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Public health measures

Laws leading to range of improvements in public health and quality of environment

Included housing, purer drinking water, pasteurisation of milk, improved sewage etc

Clean Air Acts = reduced air pollution

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Other social changes

  • Decline of dangerous manual jobs like mining
  • Smaller families - less rate of infection
  • More public knowledge of causes of illness
  • Lifestyle changes e.g. smoking
  • Higher incomes = healthier lifestyle
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Life expectancy

Males born in England in 1900 avergage of 50 but in 2013 can expect 90.7

1 reason for lower average life expectancy in 1900 = so many infants not surviving beyond early years of life

Today, baby has better chance reaching 65th birthday than baby born in 1900 reaching its 1st birthday

By 2100, Harper thinks there will be 1 million people who have reached 100 years old

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Class, gender and regional differences

Women generally live longer than men (although gap has narrowed)

Those living in North and Scotland have lower life expectancy than those in South

Working class men in unskilled/routine jobs nearly 3x more likely to die before they are 65 than men with managerial or professional jobs

According to Walker (2011) = those living in poorest areas die on average 7 years earlier than those in richest areas - average difference in disability-free life expectancy is 17 years

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