Death in London

Death in London

Over the course of the 20th century, death rates in London shrank, thanks to advances in medical science, improved diet, and better access to healthcare.

By the end of the 20th century, the most usual causes of death for Londoners were circulatory or heart diseases (an average of 48,790 people a year); respiratory diseases, including the effects of air pollution (17,920 people); and cancer (33,880 people). Other causes of death included injury or food poisoning (3,920 people a year).

Before mass vaccination programmes, epidemics of the traditional urban diseases killed many Londoners. In 1902, 2,319 Londoners died from measles: 2,209 of these were children under five. During 191819, 18,000 Londoners died in a worldwide influenza pandemic. Smallpox, diphtheria, and air pollution continued to kill. In 1952, 4,000 Londoners died from respiratory diseases caused by smog.

Disposal of the dead was also an issue for 20th-century London. Most of Londons 147 cemeteries date from the 19th century. Only 11 new cemeteries were created after 1940, partly due to the increase in cremations. Before 1950, only 4% of disposals in London were cremations, but by the end of the century, the proportion had increased to 71%.

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