Water for the Many: Health, neighbourhood change and equality of access during the expansion of Swedish urban water networks

Forskningsoutput: AvhandlingDoktorsavhandling (sammanläggning)

329 Nedladdningar (Pure)


During the course of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, conditions for life in the city changed drastically. Investments in infrastructure, health and education coincided with economic growth, urbanisation and mortality decline. This dissertation uses newly available macro- and micro-level data to examine the consequences and mechanisms of an important investment in cities: the building of water networks. Access to safe water is expected to be positive for health, but the networks can also have unintended consequences for affected neighbourhoods. The results from this dissertation show that water networks, combined with sewerage networks, had a solid but comparatively modest negative effect on urban mortality in Sweden. This is interpreted as an outcome of the small population size of Swedish cities compared to larger cities in previous research, and the early advent of the Swedish mortality decline. Results from the micro-level, investigating mortality effects from access to water in Södermalm, Stockholm, show a similar pattern of comparatively low magnitudes. The micro-level results show that the effect of water access on infant and child mortality is largely removed with the introduction of parental socio-economic status.

Also studying how public investments spread in cities, and how they affect a city's social composition, this dissertation uses building-level data on Stockholm's water network. Results show that Stockholm succeeded in bringing water access to all social classes without creating large inequalities. This stands in contrast to previous results from the UK, where a privatised water sector created large access inequalities. Likely explanations are the choice of a public actor and residential integration between social classes. Further results show that buildings connected to the network experience an upwards change in social composition in the long term. This is interpreted as an outcome of desirability changes of connected buildings, which can in turn affect the possibilities of lower-class residents to live in a connected building. The results of this dissertation show that context and precision in measurements matter for our understanding of how public investments shape life in the city.
Tilldelande institution
  • Ekonomihögskolan
  • Nilsson, Anders, handledare
  • Tegunimataka, Anna, Biträdande handledare
  • Helgertz, Jonas, Biträdande handledare
Tilldelningsdatum2021 sep. 17
UtgivningsortLund, Sweden
ISBN (tryckt)978-91-87793-74-5
ISBN (elektroniskt)978-91-87793-75-2
StatusPublished - 2021 sep. 17

Bibliografisk information

Defence details
Date: 2021-09-17
Time: 10:15
Place: EC3:207
External reviewer
Name: Kesztenbaum, Lionel
Title: Professor
Affiliation: L'lnstitut national d'etudes demoqraphiques (lned)

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Ekonomisk historia


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