Original paper

The main trends in the palaeodemography of the 7 th-18 th century population of Latvia

Zarina, Gunita


The study represents palaeodemographic research of osteological material of 3304 individuals from the funds of the Anthropological Laboratory of the Institute of History of the University of Latvia in Riga, dating from the 7th to the 18th century AD. Compensated life expectancy at birth is varying between 20.3 and 22.2 years during the research period. Crude mortality has changed between 49.3 and 45%. In the early period (7th-13th century) there is a significant male prevalence (2.2-1.4); female life expectancy at the age of 20 is on average 6.6 years less than for males. This difference decreases to 5.4 years in the 13th-18th century. According to historical demography, female life span exceeded male only in the 2nd half of 19th century. The palaeodemographic data indicate that in the 7th-18th century, women in Latvia gave birth to a mean of 4-5 children (the figure includes childless women), of whom half, at most 2-2.5, reached reproductive age, on account of high child mortality. The net reproductive rate R0 (the number of descendants per individual of the parents'generation) varies between 1 and 1.25 in the study period. Concerning the completely excavated cemeteries of Lejasbiteni (7th-10th century) and Daudziesi (16th-17th century), it was possible to calculate the size and structure of the populations that had used these cemeteries. They were similar,having 45.3- 49.9% of children up to an age of 14 and 24-28% individuals over the age of 30. According to historical demography, radical improvement of the demographic situation in Latvia began in the second half of the 19th century, when the process of demographic transition in Latvia started.


Latviapalaeodemographylife expectancymortalitygender distributionpopulation structure