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University of Tromsø, 10-12 October 2005

About the the seminar:

Hosts at the
University of Tromsø


Centre for Women and Gender Research (KVINNFORSK),

and the Norwegian Historical Data Centre (RHD)

As emphasised in the title the symposium Gendered and Developmental Perspectives on Infant Mortality Decline aimed at bringing together different perspectives on infant mortality. Gender and Women’s roles in the processes and efforts of reducing infant mortality were linked with historical and contemporary statistics. The infant mortality rate (IMR) is used as a proxy indicator of a nation's level of welfare and living conditions. While computing the infant mortality rate often is straightforward, explaining the background factors behind differential rates is always very complex. A plethora of factors - economic, social, technological and political - must be taken into consideration. Several of the contributing lecturers emphasised the crucial importance of women, as mothers, midwives and activists promoting improvements at all levels of the maternal and infant care systems. During the twentieth century IMR levels in the developed parts of the world were brought down to well under the one percent. However, in many developing countries infant mortality rates still range around ten percent, a level that was common in Scandinavia more than a century ago.

The idea of the symposium was especially to bring together expertise from history, demography, gender studies and social medicine. While history never repeats itself, it seems clear that the role of nutrition and religion, for instance, is as important in some parts of Africa now as it was in nineteenth-century Europe. However, access to information and economic benefits may influence infant mortality differently, and symposium contributors agreed on the relevance of historical data especially in the processes of formulating hypotheses in research projects. Such knowledge may also be relevant for understanding the recent increases in child mortality rates in parts of Russia. Two of the Russian researchers shared their empirical data from Arkangelsk. The third researcher emphasised the importance of researching not only the statistical data from Russia, but also the categories and definitions applied.

Seminar programme and presentations

Monday 10 October

Teo H5 - room 5.302, Chair: Anka Ryall

Opening (room 5.302)

Gunnar Thorvaldsen, Prof/PHD History, University of Tromsø, Norway: The International secular infant mortality decline

Download presentation as PDF file (4,1MB)

Gloria Macassa, MD, MPH, PhD Social Medicine, Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden: Poverty and child mortality in different contexts: Can Mozambique learn from the infant mortality decline in Stockholm at the turn of the 19th century?

Download presentation as PDF file

Tuesday 11 October

Nordic historical case studies

Teo H6 - Auditorium 3 - 6.303, Chair: Randi Rønning Balsvik

Sølvi Sogner, Prof, Department of History, University of Oslo, Norway: Legitimate and illegitimate infants in rural and urban areas.

Download paper as PDF file (0,15MB)

Ida Blom, Prof/Dr Philos, Department of History, University of Bergen, Norway: The establishment of maternal clinics in Norway.

Download paper as PDF file

Teo H5 - room 5.302, Chair: Lise Nordbrønd

Inger Elisabeth Haavet, Prof, Department of History, University of Bergen, Norway: Infant Mortality as a catalyst for family policy formation in Norway 1900-1940.

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Hilde Jåstad, Lecturer/ Cand.Polit, Sogndal College, Norway: Infant mortality in arctic Scandinavia in the 19th century.

Download presentation as PDF file (0,15MB)

Ólöf Garðarsdóttir, Director, Statistics Iceland: The dramatic decline in Icelandic infant mortality.

Download paper as PDF file (4,1MB)

Anne Løkke, Lecturer/Dr.Phil, Department of history, University of Copenhagen, Denmark: Could Denmark afford to let the illegitimate children among the poor people live?

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Conference dinner at Gunnar Thorvaldsen's house: Båtsmannsveien 34, Sjømannsbyen, Håpet

Wednesday 12 October

Developmental case studies

Teo H5 - room 5.202, Chair: Gunnar Thorvaldsen

Andrej Grjibovski, Dr. Med, Norwegian Institute of Public Health: Infant mortality in contemporary Russia

Zorina A., Northern state medical university, department of obstetrics and gynecology, Arkhangelsk, Russia.

Kurilenko M. Arkhangelsk state department of public health, Arkhangelsk, Russia. Severodvinsk maternity home of Public Health
Infant mortality in Arkhangelsk region

Download presentation as PDF file

Sven Hinderaker, Dr Med, University of Bergen, Norway: Perinatal mortality in Tanzania

Closing debate/Panel