The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Differential mortality in Albany using cemetery and skeletal data


Anthropology, University at Albany - SUNY

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As mortality rates drop in the twentieth century, there is also a growing differential in mortality rates between the sexes. These dramatic disparities do not appear to be universal prior to the twentieth century. This analysis investigates mortality in Albany, between 1671 and 2010, during which the city grew from a small rural area north of New York City into a thriving urban center, in order to determine if differences in mortality exist between the sexes during periods before the decline in death rates. The large time frame allows for the comparison of differences in mortality rates over three centuries. Two sample populations, headstone data from the Albany Rural Cemetery and skeletal records from the Albany Almshouse, are used in order to capture the diversity of the city by incorporating individuals from all social classes. The Gompertz-Makeham model of mortality is applied to compare demographic data across time and between the sexes. Results show patterns of low mortality in the twentieth century compared to data from the nineteenth and eighteenth centuries, which is consistent with increased standard of living in developed areas following the rapid industrialization and expansion of the nineteenth century. Unlike previous studies, there is no statistical difference between the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century mortality risks which suggests that either mortality rates did not increase in Albany in the nineteenth century or that mortality was always high. The only significant differences in risk of mortality between the sexes are in the twentieth century.

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