• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Dying is a social as well as physiological phenomenon. Each society characterizes and, consequently, treats death and dying in its own individual ways—ways that differ markedly. These particular patterns of death and dying engender modal cultural responses, and such institutionalized behavior has familiar, economical, educational, religious, and political implications. The Handbook of Death and Dying takes stock of the vast literature in the field.

Historical and Epidemiological Trends in Mortality in the United States
Historical and epidemiological trends in mortality in the United States

The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of the major trends in causes of death in the United States from colonial times to the end of the 20th century. During this period, many changes have occurred in the types of diseases and conditions that have caused death, differentials in patterns of death, and life expectancy. The chapter is divided into five major sections. The first three of these address particular time periods: the colonial period through approximately 1790, the 19th century, and the 20th century. Each of these sections begins with a discussion of available sources of mortality data and then covers the ...

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