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Climate, social and demographic change and disease in Sweden during three hundred years

Research project Climate conditions affect heat and respiratory diseases, especially in the elderly and the sick. Today cardiovascular diseases are the main cause of death in Sweden.

The aim of this project is to examine how variations of climate affected people’s survival in Skellefteå, a rural town in Northern Sweden, before, during and after industrialisation. We will investigate how the role of seasonality and climate fluctuations for population health changed over time, and how individual factors such as age, sex and living conditions had an influence on this relationship. We will use population data of the Demographic Database at Umeå University that are based on historical parish registers between 1749 and 1950, as well as national population registers after 1950. Long-term measurements of temperature and precipitation will be used to analyse statistically the relationship between climate and mortality.

Head of project

Barbara Schumann
Research fellow
E-mail
Email

Project overview

Project period:

2013-01-01 2014-12-31

Funding

The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences, 2013: SEK 1,491,000

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Epidemiology and Global Health

Research area

Public health and health care science

Project description

In the last century, Sweden has experienced profound changes in society, living conditions and life expectancy. At the same time, climate change has increased average temperatures and the frequency of heat waves. Climate conditions affect heat and respiratory diseases, especially in the elderly and the sick. Today cardiovascular diseases are the main cause of death in Sweden. However, we lack understanding of disease trends in the course of industrialisation and climate change. There is a research need concerning age and cause-specific mortality trends before and during the period of industrialisation in Sweden, and concerning socio-economic and climatic factors for these trends, especially in older age groups. The proposed project will investigate long-term mortality trends in the Skellefteå region, northern Sweden, during the last three centuries. It will investigate the role of seasonality and climate fluctuations for population health during that time, and how individual factors such as age, sex, occupation and living conditions had an influence on this relationship. We will also investigate which causes of death showed the strongest relation to unfavourable weather conditions, and how this possibly changed in the course of the epidemiological transition. We will use population data of the Demographic Database at Umeå University that are based on historical parish registers between 1749 and 1950, as well as national population registers after 1950. Long-term measurements and estimations of temperature and precipitation will be used to analyse statistically with time-series analysis the relationship between climate and mortality.