The impact of “sanitary environment” on health in  Umbra and Sardinia at the end of the 19th century

Odoardo Bussini, Università di Perugia
Donatella Lanari, Università di Roma "La Sapienza"

The paper aims to investigate the effects of socio-economic factors and “sanitary” environment on health condition of adult male population in two Italian regions, specifically in Umbria and Sardinia. We analyze the relationship between the existence of public health infrastructures and conscripts’ health status, evaluated using both anthropometric and sanitary data. Health infrastructures is proxied by sewerage and drainage systems, waste disposal, clean water supply, and basic health care. We use two kinds of sources: the survey on the sanitary conditions of the Italian municipalities (1886) and the military recruitment records. We investigate the aforementioned relationship for a cohort born at the end of the 19th century. Removing the hypothesis of fixed effects for grouping variables, a multilevel statistical model is specified to evaluate the influence of both individual and macro-aggregate variables. Multivariate regression analyses highlight a negative relationship between illiteracy and being declared unfit for military service. Moreover, the significant influence of sanitary environment experienced during childhood indicates that the contextual effects are important determinants for poor health.

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Presented in Session 85: Historical epidemiology