chapter  11
20 Pages

Decline of the urban penalty: milk supply and infant welfare centres in Germany, 1890s to 1920s

ByJörg Peter Vögele, Wolfgang Woelk, Silke Fehlemann

This chapter provides a discussion of the changing disease profile and its effects on the urban penalty. It utilizes two examples, milk supply and the creation of infant welfare centres, to provide an analysis of public health measures introduced as attempts to improve health in the cities of imperial Germany. In Germany the urban disease profile was initially dominated by the gastrointestinal diseases, which almost exclusively affected infants. Urban infant mortality rates significantly surpassed those in rural areas, but urban rates declined from their high level at the beginning of the registration period. The scholars differ widely in their conclusions about the impact of milk supply on the course of infant mortality. In Germany, mortality rates peaked at the beginning of the high industrialisation period of the 1860s and 1870s. Afterwards, urban death rates started to decline until the First World War.