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Survival in 19th century cities: The larger the city, the smaller your chances

By Louis Cain and Sok Chul Hong


Using Union Army veterans' lifetime socioeconomic and health records, this essay finds a consistent and persistent hierarchy in survival rates and hazard ratios by urban size at and across three stages of life: birth, late adolescence, and death. This urban mortality penalty remains after controlling for variables associated with each individual veteran. The results of our geographical mobility analyses suggest that, with respect to these veterans, the search for an explanation should focus on late adolescence and adulthood as much as on early life. A complete explanation of the penalty requires a project of greater scope.Urban mortality penalty Cohort analysis Survival rate Hazard ratio Mobility

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