Differential Mortality between the Sexes: An Inevitable Pattern in the Middle Ages?

Svenja Weise, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

For most ancient populations there is a clear difference between male and female mortality regimes. This differential mortality between the sexes might be shaped by biological or cultural factors, such as higher female mortality due to childbirth or maternal depletion, women’s role in daily life or limited access to resources. On the basis of a skeletal sample from a late medieval cemetery in Malmö, Sweden, the change from an historical to a modern mortality regime can be recognized. The skeletons show no significant difference between male and female survival for all age groups. The Male/Female Mortality Ratio (M/F MR) is 1.03 for the ages 20 to 40 and 1.00 for the ages 40+. The comparison with the M/F MR for early medieval Danish skeletal samples and early modern parish records from Scania shows that the late medieval period might be the turning point between the different mortality regimes in Scandinavia.

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Presented in Poster Session 1