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Home arrow History arrow A Global History of Child Death: Mortality, Burial, and Parental Attitudes

Burial Clubs

The London General Bill of 1741 noted that fifty percent of all deaths were of children, thirty-three percent of whom were under the age of two. Causes of death included consumption, fever and tuberculosis. Around the same time, other cities in Europe experienced equally high mortality rates: in Barcelona sixty percent of deaths were children, Paris forty-five percent, Florence forty percent, and in Dublin a staggering eighty-eight percent.10

In these regions, mortality was so high that burial clubs were instituted. These clubs were equivalent to insurance for funerals; although, eventually it came to be discovered that some children were enrolled in more than one club. The death rates of these children were far higher than the rates of those not enrolled in any burial club (sixty-eight percent compared to thirty-six percent, respectively). To reduce the appeal of these burial clubs and any potential foul play, enrollment rules were changed to reduce the amount of the pay-out.

 
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