Infant and child mortality in the Netherlands 1935–47 and changes related to the Dutch famine of 1944–45: A population-based analysis

Precise estimates of the impact of famine on infant and child mortality are rare due to lack of representative data. Using vital statistics reports on the Netherlands for 1935–47, we examine the impact of the Dutch famine (November 1944 to May 1945) on age-specific mortality risk and cause of death in four age groups (stillbirths, <1 year, 1–4, 5–14) in the three largest famine-affected cities and the remainder of the country.


Mortality during the famine is compared with the pre-war period January 1935 to April 1940, the war period May 1940 to October 1944, and the post-war period June 1945 to December 1947. The famine’s impact was most visible in infants because of the combined effects of a high absolute death rate and a threefold increase in proportional mortality, mostly from gastrointestinal conditions. These factors make infant mortality the most sensitive indicator of famine severity in this setting and a candidate marker for comparative use in future studies.

Ingrid J. J. de Zwarte, Peter Ekamper & L. H. Lumey | 2023
In: Population Studies ; ISSN: 0032-4728.
Online ahead of print doi: 10.1080/00324728.2023.2243913
Children, Famine, Infants, Methodology, Mortality, Netherlands, Rationalization, Statistical Analysis, Stillbirth, Urban Populations, World War II