The demographic History of Smallpox in the Netherlands (18th-19th centuries)

W. Rutten

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


This paper looks at the demographic history of smallpox in the Netherlands in the 18th and 19th centuries. It examines the claim that smallpox vaccination was a prime-mover in the European mortality decline starting about 1800 (Razzell 1977; Mercer 1990; Aaby 1991; Sköld 1996). In the Netherlands smallpox mortality dropped in an unprecedented way from the early 19th century. Largescale vaccination campaigns, launched by Louis- Napoleon, King of Holland, and continued by the new-founded Kingdom of the Netherlands, are considered responsible for the decline of smallpox. At the same time a significant acceleration in Dutch population growth was observed (Hofstee 1978). A similar coincidence has been observed in many other European countries as well (Mercer 1990). Until recently, the impact of smallpox on Dutch mortality levels has never been established with certitude. Was smallpox really a major check upon Dutch population growth?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDeath at the opposite Ends of the Eurasian Continent
Subtitle of host publicationMortality Trends in Taiwan and the Netherlands 1850-1945
EditorsT. Engelen, J.R. Shephard, Y. Wen-shan
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherAmsterdam University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9789048514687
ISBN (Print)9789052603797
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011

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