Foto av Sakari Saaritsa

Sakari Saaritsa, PhD, biträdande professor, akademiforskare

  • PL 54 (Snellmaninkatu 14 A)




Research output per year

Om du gjort några ändringar i Pure kommer de visas här snart.

Personlig profil

Information om forskning och undervisning

Associate Professor in Social History & Academy of Finland Research Fellow (August 2017-)

I am an economic and social historian working on topics related to development, poverty, welfare, gender and human capital. My research interests include the quantitative history of human development (particularly health, education and physiological capital), social inequality, intrahousehold resource allocation, historical indicators of well-being, relationships between economic and human development, interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral dialogue between development policy, development and labour economics and development history, labour history, as well as relevant approaches and sources, such as microeconometrics, historical demography, anthropometrics, household budgets, social network analysis and oral histories.

In addition to academic research, I have worked in development in India, Tanzania, Syria and Mozambique in different capacities, from intern to consultant. Although I am a permanent resident of Helsinki, I have been based in Africa and the Middle East for altogether seven years since 2005.

I am currently working on a project entitled "Beyond virtuous circles: A new economic history of human development in Finland, 19th-20th c." as an Academy of Finland Research Fellow.


Courses in 2019-2020:

YK-111 Johdatus yhteiskunnallisen muutoksen tutkimukseen 1, sosiaalihistorian osuus (Period I) [Introductory course to the Bachelor's program in social change, social history part]

Graduseminaari (whole year) [Master's thesis seminar]

YMT-3505 Syventävät kvantitatiiviset menetelmät  (Period IV) [Advanced quantitative methods]

Former research projects:

Counteracting amnesia in development -- studies from the periphery (Academy of Finland, director Juhani Koponen, 2014-2016)

Household risk management before the welfare state: Coping with insecurity in early 20th century Finland (Academy of Finland, Postdoctoral Researcher's Project, 2010-2014)

Former teaching: 

Courses in 2018-2019:

YK-111 & YK-112 Johdatus yhteiskunnallisen muutoksen tutkimukseen 1-2 (Periods I-II) [Introductory course to the Bachelor's program in social change]

Graduseminaari (whole year) [Master's thesis seminar]

Tutkijaseminaari/jatkokoulutusseminaari (whole year) [Researcher/PhD seminar]

YMT-3505 Syventävät kvantitatiiviset menetelmät  (Period IV) [Advanced quantitative methods]

Courses in 2017-2018:

YK-111 & YK-112 Johdatus yhteiskunnallisen muutoksen tutkimukseen 1-2 (Periods I-II) [Introductory course to the Bachelor's program in social change]

Graduseminaari (whole year) [Master's thesis seminar]

Tutkijaseminaari/jatkokoulutusseminaari (whole year) [Researcher/PhD seminar]

YMT-3505 Syventävät kvantitatiiviset menetelmät  (Period IV) [Advanced quantitative methods]

Courses in 2016-2017:

Bachelor's Seminar

Seminar on the microeconomic history of poverty, welfare and development (period II)

Advanced quantitative methods (period IV)

Faculty examinations: Emerging consumer society, The history of Everyday Life and Mentalities, The History of Social Science History, and Population and Family. (15 books in total.)

Couses in Spring 2016:

Globaali kehityshistoria ja Suomi (Juhani Koposen kanssa, kehitysmaatutkimus ja talous- ja sosiaalihistoria, III periodi) [Global development history and Finland]

Kvantitatiiviset menetelmät (talous- ja sosiaalihistoria, IV periodi) [Advanced quantitative methods]

Courses in 2012:

Seminar on the microeconomic history of poverty, welfare and development

Kts. WebOodi,

Courses in 2011:

Seminar on the microeconomic history of poverty, welfare and development

(Juhani Koposen kanssa:) Global development history and the Finnish experience


Work in progress:

(with Markus Ristola) The impact of early health care services on mortality and fertility at the municipal level in Finland, 1880-1913

The paper provides first estimates of the effect of early health care services on mortality and fertility in late 19th century and early 20th century Finland using a new municipal level panel data. Prompted by the emergence of modern public health concepts and new kinds of state subsidies, municipalities and other local actors begun to hire trained health care professionals to provide services to the public at low or no cost from the 1880s. A network of district doctors had been set up under Swedish rule in the mid-18th century. The new providers included municipal doctors; ambulatory nurses and deaconesses; and midwives. The recruitment took place under varying regimes (municipal with or without state subsidies, parish, private entities) at different times in different municipalities, generating broad local variation in supply. Our panel data covers all Finnish rural municipalities between 1880-1913 adjusting for border changes (n=439, 14 926 observations) with variables for the introduction of services, mortality (CDR) and fertility (CBR) by sex, as well as a growing set of controls. We are able to estimate econometrically the impact of the early services on mortality and fertility by sex, including interactions of services as well as variation over time and space.

(with Jarmo Peltola) Typhoid for all? Inequality and the timing of response to a shared waterborne health shock during the Great Typhoid Epidemic of Tampere, 1916

We use individual level data on a clearly defined, exogenous waterborne health shock in an industrial city in Finland in 1916 to analyze the contribution of complementary factors like type of employment, socioeconomic status and physical habitat in determining the health consequences of a polluted water supply. We are able to link individual hospital records of c. 2 700 patients affected by the epidemic with detailed information of their age, sex, residence, type of water utility, occupation, neighborhood socioeconomic profile, building types, etc., collected from sources including housing surveys, address calendars and urban census statistics. We use survival analysis with time varying coefficients to estimate the effect of variables like age, sex, occupation, housing and neighborhood on the timing of observed contagion among the eventually infected population at different stages of the epidemic. Since the exposure was exogenous, simultaneous and sudden throughout the city, we are able to decompose the mitigating/reinforcing effect of other factors, such as space, income or human capital, on the impact of water quality over the course of the epidemic. In the most recent round of research on the relative contributions of public interventions and private processes to the historical mortality decline, estimating unequal production functions of health within and across populations is becoming central. We offer a detailed, nonlinear analysis of the economic, social and spatial elements of a historical health shock, suggesting overwhelming material constraints to health seeking behavior were often present.

 (with Evan Roberts and Stefan Öberg): On the right side of U: Changing determinants of married women’s employment in early 20th century US and Nordic countries in light of historical household budgets

Influential work by Claudia Goldin in the 1990s established an empirical and theoretical basis for a U-shaped pattern in married women's paid work patterns over time. Still outstanding is the question of understanding married women's paid employment on the right side of the "U", as labor force participation rates slowly began to rise in the first half of the twentieth century. In this paper, we take a comparative approach to understanding this pattern of behavior. We select several broadly comparable household budget datasets from the United States (1889-1940), Finland, and Sweden. We document the similarities and differences in data collection protocols, and then from microdata versions of the surveys construction consistent criteria for including women and families in the sample. We measure labor force participation in a range of ways, using indicators of both hours and earnings over various thresholds to determine if women were working. In all three countries, we show that the basis for married women's decisions to participate in the labor market changed over time in important ways. In the United States, women's work decisions were less responsive to their husband's earnings by 1940 than they had been in 1919. Finnish data enables analyzing changes over the 1920s, differences between rural and urban worker households and for the year 1928, short and long run determinants of married women’s labor supply. Swedish data similarly covers 2500 households between 1913 and 1934.

 Socioeconomic capital, physiological capital and human capital: An anthropometric perspective on schooling and social mobility in interwar Finland

The paper exploits school-based statistics on height and weight by age to analyze the linkages between social inequality, physiological development, and evolving mass education in early 20th century Finland. Anthropometric research has cumulated evidence on the importance of physiological development captured by indicators of growth for cognitive skills, school attainment and productivity. In poor countries, the accumulation of “physiological capital” is largely determined by socioeconomic status via its effect on net nutrition, as well as the incidence of shocks like wars, epidemics and recessions. In the German-style “elitist” educational system of early 20th century Finland, a minority of pupils were tracked at age 10-11 to secondary schools offering access to white collar employment and the academia through what was formally a meritocratic process. The links between socioeconomic status, gender and secondary schooling have been elaborated in recent literature (Saaritsa & Kaihovaara, Cliometrica 2014). Available aggregate statistics on height and weight by age for a sample of thousands of pupils of both sexes by educational track between ages 7 and 20 from the turn of the 1920s and the mid-1930s enables incorporating physiological capital into the analysis. Applying recent WHO parameters makes it possible to estimate the extent of stunting and wasting by group and by sex in the two periods. Comparing weight and height based indicators in samples collected at specific historical moments makes it possible to gauge the effects of structural nutritional inequality versus the legacy of past shocks such as the civil war of 1918 and the Great Depression of the 1930s. In addition to measuring differences in height at age of tracking, it is possible to measure gender differences in the degree of physiological inequality between secondary and non-secondary schooled children, and their evolution over a period marked by GDP growth, crises and changes in gendered employment and educational patters. All this sheds light on the local social dynamics of a period characterized in historical HDI literature as one of human development rather than income growth driven progress in Europe.

 Excess female mortality, tuberculosis, adolescence and modernization:  Evidence from Finnish population statistics, 19th - 20th c.

This paper presents findings on female excess mortality and tuberculosis based on Finnish population statistics which seem at odds with some dominant explanations of the phenomenon. Excess female mortality in age groups from late childhood till the end of the reproductive years has been observed across many populations in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but has later disappeared over time. Whereas the proximate cause in most cases seems to have been pulmonary tuberculosis (TB), the root causes remain contested. Intrahousehold discrimination related to changing bargaining positions of the sexes under capitalist modernization has been widely discussed, along with unsanitary early industrial working conditions in female majority branches like textiles. On the other hand, some new literature on the UK suggests epidemiological reasons and changes in disease environment were driving the rise and subsequent fall of the excess, while no consistent evidence of underlying discrimination is argued to exist. Somewhat surprisingly, any clinical consensus on the possible medical causes of greater female susceptibility to TB is equally hard to come by. A recurrent strand of explanations is based on puberty and related hormonal changes, some medical researchers suggesting sexually transmitted infections as potential drivers of TB advance. This paper describes a method for roughly estimating annual female excess mortality from TB by age group from the late 19th century to WWII with Finnish population data. It is shown that the annually available raw ratio of TB deaths by sex is reasonably close to the actual mortality difference calculable from decennial census data and may act as proxy. As identifying TB was well established, this indicator shows no breaks associated with changes in clinical capacity to define causes of death and statistical classification and provides a long, stable time series. The exercise seems to indicate a consistent female excess TB mortality already in the age group 5 to 9. While this ratio seems largely unresponsive to gendered structural changes occurring over the 60-year period in terms of employment, growth, industrialization and urbanization, it is equally incommensurable with epidemiological explanations based on puberty or sexual contact. Potential causes for the excess and its decline are explored.


  • 5202 Ekonomisk- och socialhistoria
  • 5203 U-landsforskning

Internationellt och inhemskt samarbete Publikationer och projekt inom de senaste fem åren.


Nälkämaasta hyvinvointivaltioksi: Suomi kehityksen kiinniottajana

Koponen, J. (red.) & Saaritsa, S. (red.), 2019, Helsinki: Gaudeamus. 463 s.

Forskningsoutput: Bok/rapportAntologi eller special utgåvaVetenskapligPeer review

Later, smaller, better? Water infrastructure and infant mortality in Finnish cities and towns, 1870-1938

Peltola, J. & Saaritsa, S., 3 apr 2019, I : History of the Family. 24, 2, s. 277-306 30 s.

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review

Öppen tillgång
Öppen tillgång

Forever gender equal and child friendly? Intrahousehold allocations to health in Finland before the Nordic welfare state

Saaritsa, S., 2017, I : European Review of Economic History. 21, 1, s. 159-184 26 s.

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review

Öppen tillgång

Good for girls or bad for boys? Schooling, social inequality and intrahousehold allocation in early twentieth century Finland

Saaritsa, S. & Kaihovaara, A., jan 2016, I : Cliometrica. 10 , 1, s. 55-98 44 s.

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review


The Nordic Society in Cross-disciplinary and Transnational Perspectives (NordSoc)

Ahokas, M., Alanko, A., Alapuro, R., Aunesluoma, J., Blomberg-Kroll, H., Borioni, P., Brisku, A., Fellman, S., Forsander, A., Glover, N., Götz, N., Haapakorpi, A., Haggrén, H., Hannikainen, M., Haldén, P., Heikkinen, S., Helander, M., Hilson, M., Hopkins, T., Huhta, I., Jalava, M., Kallio, J., Kananen, J., Kettunen, P., Kroll, C., Laine, J. M., Lauren, J. S. I., Lloyd, C., Marjanen, J., Marklund, C., Muir, S., Newby, A., Nordberg, C., Nygård, S., Outinen, S., Pellander, S., Prutsch, M., Rainio-Niemi, J., Riska, E., Roumpakis, A., Räisä, T., Saaritsa, S., Stadius, P., Stenius, H., Strang, J., Stråth, B., Suoranta, A. M., Syrjämäki, S., Wahlbeck, Ö., Vauhkonen, J., Wrede, S. & Österberg, M.

24/02/2011 → …

Projekt: Forskningsutvärdering 2011


Sound for Seniors IV Economic History Workshop

Sakari Saaritsa (Talare: Presentation)
6 jun 20197 jun 2019

Aktivitet: Typer för deltagande i eller organisering av evenemangArrangemang av och deltagande i konferens/workshop/kurs/seminarium

Baltic Connections

Sakari Saaritsa (Talare: Ordförande)

Aktivitet: Typer för deltagande i eller organisering av evenemangArrangemang av och deltagande i konferens/workshop/kurs/seminarium

Automated Registration of Historical Population Registers: New Prospects and Possibilities

Sakari Saaritsa (Närvarande)
14 feb 2019

Aktivitet: Typer för deltagande i eller organisering av evenemangArrangemang av och deltagande i konferens/workshop/kurs/seminarium

Yhteiskuntahistorian alumnit Yhistys r.y.:n kymmenvuotisjuhla

Sakari Saaritsa (Talare: Presentation)
7 feb 2019

Aktivitet: Typer för deltagande i eller organisering av evenemangPublic Talks

Centre for Economic Demography Seminar

Sakari Saaritsa (Talare: Presentation), Jarmo Peltola (Talare: Presentation)
7 maj 2019

Aktivitet: Typer för deltagande i eller organisering av evenemangArrangemang av och deltagande i konferens/workshop/kurs/seminarium