Direct and Indirect Effects of the 1918 Spanish Flu on Infant and Child Mortality in Early Twentieth-Century Madrid

Diego Ramiro Fariñas, IEGD-CCHS Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)
Stanislao Mazzoni, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)
Michel Oris, Spanish Research Council

In this communication, we investigate the impact of the 1918 Spanish Influenza in the Spanish capital, Madrid. The aim is to understand how, and to which extent, the pandemic interrupted a dynamic process of infant and child mortality decline, which reflected a transition from a situation of urban over-mortality to an urban under-mortality, a process that was particularly striking in big cities. The different waves that hitted Madrid during a 20 months period, from May 1918 till January 1920, directly impacted infant and child mortality, but we are equally interested in the indirect impact through sudden orphanhood, due to parental mortality. Deaths of parents were especially important during this pandemic because reproductive ages were the ones which experienced higher mortality during the Spanish influenza episodes. We analyze the risk of mortality of the children in 'normal' and in epidemic times, depending on the child's status (legitimate or not) and of the parents' survival and main characteristics. We look if 1918 Spanish influenza, directly and/or indirectly, changed the pattern of social inequalities by socioeconomic status, migratory origin and location (neighborhood) in a highly segregated urban environment. We also analyze if each wave affected the age pattern of mortality in consecutive waves.

Keywords: Mortality, Health and morbidity, Historical demography/methods, Linked data sets

See extended abstract.

  Presented in Session 29. Consequences of Pandemics: Lessons from History