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Death at the Opposite Ends of the Eurasian Continent

Death at the Opposite Ends of the Eurasian Continent: Mortality Trends in Taiwan and the Netherlands 1850-1945

Theo Engelen
John R. Shepherd
Yang Wen-shan
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    Death at the Opposite Ends of the Eurasian Continent
    Book Description:

    This volume examines contrasting historical demographics in Western Europe and Asia, taking the Netherlands and Taiwan as representative populations. Both countries have witnessed steady, continuous improvements in public health, disease prevention, and medical care. The contributors compare the impact of disease and mortality on the lives of individuals and families under very different cultural and social conditions.Death at the Opposite Ends of the Eurasian Continentanalyzes a variety of factors, including maternal and infant mortality, as well as the accuracy of Taiwan's censuses and death reporting.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1468-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-3)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 4-6)
  3. Introduction: Death at the opposite ends of the Eurasian continent Mortality trends in Taiwan and the Netherlands, 1850-1945
    (pp. 7-16)
    Theo Engelen and John R. Shepherd

    Death is often referred to as the great equalizer. In the end, it is said, it makes up for differences in life chances among social classes, political entities and historical periods. The sad truth is that although every human being inevitably dies, there is a vast range in the causes and timing of mortality, largely determined by location in space and time and social position. This volume looks into the similarities and the differences in mortality at the two ends of the Eurasian continent by taking the Netherlands and Taiwan as case studies representing the West-European and Chinese mortality regimes....

  4. 1 Trends in mortality and the evolution of the cause-of-death pattern in the Netherlands: 1850-2000
    (pp. 17-44)
    Frans van Poppel

    The commonalities in the pattern of mortality decline in western industrialized countries has led to the formulation of the theory of the epidemiological transition (Omran 1971), a specification of the demographic transition theory. Omran described three stages in the mortality decline, each characterized by a differing cause-of-death pattern: the period in which pestilence and famine dominated the mortality regime, the age of receding pandemics and the age of degenerative and man-made diseases. The epidemiological transition theory gives a description of the basic characteristics of the mortality development in Europe between the middle of the nineteenth and the end of the...

  5. 2 Trends in mortality and causes of death in Japanese colonial period Taiwan
    (pp. 45-80)
    John R. Shepherd

    This paper explores trends in mortality and causes of death in colonial Taiwan primarily through the study of patterns of mortality by age and sex for selected leading causes of death. The discussion concentrates on the following causes of death in the period 1905-1942: malaria, respiratory tuberculosis, respiratory diseases, diarrhea and enteritis, and infant causes. Note that due to an early Japanese period vaccination campaign, smallpox was no longer a leading cause by 1905 when our data series begins (Shepherd 2001). There is not space to treat other causes, many of them the source of important epidemics (e.g., plague, influenza,...

  6. 3 Mortality in the Netherlands: general development and regional differences
    (pp. 81-98)
    Theo Engelen and Marloes Schoonheim

    The decline of mortality in Europe throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is generally referred to as the epidemiological transition. The first phase of the transition was a decline of mortality from a period of wars, pestilence and “famine” (Meuvret 1946; Flinn 1981) that had been characterized by both structurally high levels of mortality and incidental outbursts of very high mortality peaks, mainly following bad harvest years. In the second phase, declines in deaths due to infectious diseases brought a broad mortality decline. This lasted until well into the twentieth century, when mortality decreased to a low and stable level....

  7. 4 Regional and ethnic variation in mortality in Japanese colonial period Taiwan
    (pp. 99-152)
    John R. Shepherd

    This paper explores the degree to which mortality in colonial Taiwan followed regional and/or ethnic lines of differentiation. The impact of mortality varies across many axes of human society, differentially affecting groups defined by age, sex, marital status, legitimacy status, wealth and class, educational level, and many other determinants of position in the social structure. Several of these factors are the focus of other papers in this collection. The current paper explores whether regional and ethnic differences should also be included in the list of significant determinants of mortality levels. The paper begins by exploring regional differences in mortality, and...

  8. 5 An outline of socio-medical care in the Netherlands, 19th and early 20th centuries
    (pp. 153-164)
    Willibrord Rutten

    Except for precautions against plague, disease prevention policies on a national scale were non-existent in the Netherlands until the turn of the 18th/19th century. The political constellation of the Republic of the United Provinces was a serious obstacle for the development of an active health policy. The government of the Dutch confederation lacked the power to take charge and initiate a campaign to contain epidemics.

    Then the Batavian Revolution (1795) put an end to the old Republic and paved the way for the formation of a national state after the Napoleonic model. The Republic of the Free Bataves (1796-1806) came...

  9. 6 An overview of public health development in Japan-ruled Taiwan
    (pp. 165-182)
    Liu Shi-yung

    Medicine and civilization” were two of the main themes that the Japanese colonial government repeatedly used to persuade Taiwanese to accept colonization. By accepting governmental statistics from colonial Taiwan at face value, post-war scholars commonly conclude that Japanese colonial medicine improved the survival chances of the Japanese in Taiwan and that the Taiwanese gradually enjoyed the benefits of advanced modern medicine, without understanding the complexities of both the scientific and the social history of medicine, and the policy compromises these involve. The social history of medicine in colonial Taiwan developed after the 1990s has never gone beyond the assumptions of...

  10. 7 The demographic history of smallpox in the Netherlands, 18th-19th centuries
    (pp. 183-202)
    Willibrord Rutten

    This paper looks at the demographic history of smallpox in the Netherlands in the 18th and 19th centuries. It examines the claim that smallpox vaccination was a prime-mover in the European mortality decline starting about 1800 (Razzell 1977; Mercer 1990; Aaby 1991; Sköld 1996). In the Netherlands smallpox mortality dropped in an unprecedented way from the early 19th century. Largescale vaccination campaigns, launched by Louis- Napoleon, King of Holland, and continued by the new-founded Kingdom of the Netherlands, are considered responsible for the decline of smallpox. At the same time a significant acceleration in Dutch population growth was observed (Hofstee...

  11. 8 Anti-malaria policy in Colonial Taiwan
    (pp. 203-228)
    Ku Ya-wen

    In 1965, the World Health Organization registered Taiwan on its list of countries where malaria eradication had been achieved. This remarkable achievement has often been presented as a story of scientific conquest, and modern anti-malaria measures undertaken during the colonial period from 1895 to 1945 have been hailed simply as a positive legacy of Japan’s medical and public health work.¹ Recent studies, however, have not been satisfied with viewing these events in abstract scientific terms, but have tried to interpret medical developments within an existing colonial context. They have criticized the heroic narrative of the progress of science (or medicine),...

  12. 9 Maternal mortality in Taiwan and the Netherlands, 1850-1945
    (pp. 229-274)
    John R. Shepherd, Marloes Schoonheim, Chang Tian-yun and Jan Kok

    Maternal mortality is an important measure of the standard of living in societies both in the past and at present. Recent research on maternal mortality has focused on its relation to fertility behavior, infant mortality, and broader trends in death rates and sex differential mortality (Chen et al. 1974, Hieu 1999, Loudon 1992). Difficulties in collecting data and constructing measures to estimate maternal mortality have also received the attention of scholars (Bouvier-Colle et al. 1991; Graham 1989; Rutenberg et al.; Stanton et al. 1996; Stecklov 1995). Results from studies like these have had considerable impact on development policies.

    Maternal mortality...

  13. 10 Maternal depletion and infant mortality
    (pp. 275-288)
    Theo Engelen and Arthur P. Wolf

    Maternal depletion refers to the possibility of ongoing decline in physical health during the reproductive life of a woman. It is the result of the growing metabolic burden of successive gestations and periods of lactation in societies where birth intervals are short. Especially when food is in short supply mothers will not be able to recover from a previous pregnancy before the next starts. Thus, depletion is a threat for all women experiencing short intervals between births. It is an even more serious threat for women growing older, since their recuperation takes longer (Wood 1994; Ellison 2001). This phenomenon has...

  14. 11 The massacre of the innocents Infant mortality in Lugang (Taiwan) and Nijmegen (the Netherlands)
    (pp. 289-316)
    Theo Engelen and Hsieh Ying-Hui

    Infant mortality is one of the most striking characteristics of pre-industrial demography. By modern standards the chances of survival for newly born children were astonishingly low. Almost one quarter of infants did not reach the first birthday, and mortality remained high in childhood. From an economic point of view one might conclude that pre-industrial fertility was very inefficient. It took many births to produce a smaller number of surviving children. From an emotional point of view some authors have referred to this phenomenon as “the massacre of the innocents.” The high death rates of the very young deserve attention because...

  15. 12 Illegitimacy, adoption, and mortality among Girls in Penghu, 1906-1945
    (pp. 317-348)
    Yu Guang-hong, Huang Yu-lin and Chuu Ling-in

    This paper adopts an anthropological approach to the analysis of an unexpected demographic pattern. Our statistical findings reveal an extraordinarily high illegitimate birth rate and high female infant mortality rate in Penghu in the years 1906-1945. To anyone who grew up in Penghu or has studied the history of Penghu, the large proportion of illegitimate children in Japanese-ruled Penghu comes as a shock. Since the Qing dynasty, Penghu had been renowned for its strict and conservative norms governing male - female relationships. The historical records of Penghu stand out for their long lists of chaste women: a gazetteer compiled in...

  16. 13 How reliable is Taiwan’s colonial period demographic data? An empirical study using demographic indirect estimation techniques
    (pp. 349-376)
    Li Chun-hao, Yang Wen-shan and Chuang Ying-chang

    When the Japanese first occupied Taiwan in 1895 after the Sino-Japanese war, the aim of the Japanese colonial government was to transform Taiwan into an agricultural base to supply foodstuffs and other raw materials for Japan. To better manage the people and resources of the colony, the Japanese organized investigation and research teams to survey Taiwan’s lands and natural resources, register its population, and research its customary law. In 1905, the Japanese government conducted its first modern population census in colonial Taiwan.¹ Later, the colonial government organized six other population censuses in 1915, 1920, 1925, 1930, 1935, and 1940, respectively....

  17. References
    (pp. 377-400)