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JAMA 100 Years Ago
November 4, 2009


JAMA. 2009;302(17):1915. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1543

Some interesting facts are to be found in the Census Bureau Bulletin 104, compiled by Dr. Cressy L. Wilbur, Chief Statistician of the Bureau of Vital Statistics, and transmitted by Director of the Census E. D. Durand to Secretary Nagel of the Department of Commerce and Labor.

The conclusion reached in the report is that the civilized world has reached an era of low mortality. The death-rate in the registration area in 1908 was 15.3 per thousand of population. This rate, Dr. Wilbur states, is probably the lowest that has ever occurred in the United States. The death-rate in the rural portion of the registration states is even lower, being only 14 per thousand, while that of the urban population was 16.5 per thousand, the latter including all cities having a population of over 8,000 in 1900. Such a death-rate would have been considered impossible, or at least remarkable, in former years. Nor are present conditions limited to the United States. In the same year the death-rate for England and Wales was only 14.7 per thousand and of London 15.8. The death-rate of England and Wales has been under 16 per thousand since 1893, with the single exception of 1904, when it was 16.2.

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