Climatic impacts on mortality in pre-industrial Sweden
Abstract. Climate variability and change, as well as extreme weather events, have notable impacts on human health and mortality. In historical times, the effect of climate on health and mortality was presumably stronger than today, owing to that nutrition status was meditated through climatic impacts on food production along with factors such as poor housing and healthcare. Despite this, climatic impacts on mortality in the past remain poorly understood. This study aims to improve the understanding of historical climate effects on mortality, using annual mortality records and meteorological data from Sweden between 1749 and 1859. The analysis includes the entire population as well as subgroups based on sex and age. A statistically significant negative correlation was found between winter and spring temperatures and mortality (i.e., lower temperatures = higher mortality and vice versa). We demonstrate that colder winters and springs were linked to higher mortality levels, not only for the same year but also the following year. Conversely, no statistically significant associations were observed between summer or autumn temperatures and mortality, and only weak associations existed with precipitation. The impact of winter– spring temperature on mortality was most pronounced for the same year in southern Sweden and during the 19th century, but stronger for the following year in central Sweden and during the 18th century. These findings call for further research, especially investigating specific diseases and additional contributing factors to the observed increase in mortality following cold winter and spring conditions in Sweden during the late pre-industrial period.
Status: open (until 18 Mar 2024)
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