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The Mortality Rate in Cavtat (1825.–1918.)

Tatjana Buklijaš ; Zavod za povijest i filozofiju HAZU, Zagreb, Hrvatska
Nenad Vekarić ; Zavod za povijesne znanosti HAZU u Dubrovniku, Dubrovnik, Hrvatska

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 20.707 Kb

str. 303-420

preuzimanja: 102



During the period from 1825 to 1918 the mortality rate in Cavtat fell in comparison to previous centuries. This occurred as a most direct consequence of the process of demographic transition that was already under way in the Dubrovnik region at the end of the eighteenth century. Most of this period was characterized by a death rate of about 23%o (with fluctuations due to the spreading of epidemics). In the final decade of the 19th century it declined to below 22%o, and in the first decade of the twentieth century it dropped even below 18%o. A decline in the mortality of newborn babies, coupled with a general rise in life-expectancy (both typical transitional symptoms), caused a very slight decline in death rates as compared to other parts of Dalmatia. The highest recorded death rates were in 1862/3 (due to diphtheria), and toward the end of 1918, when Konavle was struck by an epidemic of Spanish influenza. In general, the population of Cavtat reached an older age than the rest of the inhabitants of Konavle. In Cavtat, the fertility contingent of the male population (mariners) suffered the highest death rate, so that the life expectancy of the female population was extended. In the Konavlian midland, however, mortality was highest among children, and middle age was better survived by males, whereas mortality among the elderly population was evenly distributed, with the male population slightly outnumbering the rest. The critical parts of the year in terms of mortality were times of seasonal change - early autumn (October) and early spring (March) - as well as the severe winter months (December and January), while the lowest mortality rates were recorded in late spring and early summer (from May to July). The inland population of Konavle regularly experienced the above death “pattern”, unlike those in Cavtat, who, due to their urban way of life and their maritime activities, experienced greater deviations from the stated pattern. The most significant fluctuation of mortality rates, however, would occur from July to August. The long hot season increased the risk of intestinal diseases, which most often spread in August and September. Most of the established causes of death in the nineteenth century were based upon the symptoms and not the actual cause. In addition, major conceptional changes have occurred in medical science in terms of the definition of diseases. For these reasons, we carried out an analysis of causes of death on a sample of 1,704 cases: according to both the 1906 method of classification (which can hardly be compared to the present-day method) and the classification at the time of death, most diagnoses would fall under the common classification of undefined illnesses. The progress of diagnostics in the course of the nineteenth century was considerable, and the closer to the turn of the century, the greater the number of more accurate diagnoses, and the fewer the number of more general “symptomatic” diagnoses (febbre). According to the classification system of 1906, one quarter (24.24%) of the population died of “illnesses and growth disorders”. These were followed by infectious diseases (17.02%), of which tuberculosis continuously headed the list (8.45%), and among the epidemic diseases, the most common causes were dysentery (1855) and Spanish influenza (1918). A greater number of the population of Cavtat also died from the illnesses of the nervous system (13.03%), respiratory disorders (10.62%), and diseases of the respiratory system (9.10%). The end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth witnessed a rise in deaths caused by malignant diseases, due to their definitions being more precise. Still, the established malignant causes were but few; in all likelihood they were often wrongly classified into the group of undefined illnesses. The suicide rate underwent a slight rise (0.47%), to be succeeded by a rapid decrease at the beginning of the twentieth century, when the economic crisis reached its climax and was further intensified as a result of the negative consequences of the process of demographic transition (surplus population), which also caused extensive emigration. Contrarily, the number of homicide cases (0.18%) decreased in comparison with the preceding two centuries, an occurrence which could be explained by the stable circumstances along the Ragusan-Ottoman border. The proportion of deaths by infectious disease in Cavtat was smaller than that of the Istrian village of Brseč. One quarter of the Brseč population died of this cause; in Cavtat, a mere one sixth. The aforementioned offers sufficient proof that Dubrovnik’s medical standards were on a somewhat higher level than those of the other regions of Dalmatia and northern Croatia. This apparently induced an earlier start of the process of demographic transition in the Dubrovnik region. The greater number of registered carcinomas in Cavtat than in Brseč could primarily be the result of advanced diagnostics in the Dubrovnik region rather than an actual indication of mortality due to cancerous diseases.

Ključne riječi

mortality, causes of death

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Podaci na drugim jezicima: hrvatski

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