The Roseto effect: a 50-year comparison of mortality rates

Am J Public Health. 1992 Aug;82(8):1089-92. doi: 10.2105/ajph.82.8.1089.


Objectives: Earlier studies found striking differences in mortality from myocardial infarction between Roseto, a homogeneous Italian-American community in Pennsylvania, and other nearby towns between 1955 and 1965. These differences disappeared as Roseto became more "Americanized" in the 1960s. The present study extended the comparison over a longer period of time to test the hypothesis that the findings from this period were not due to random fluctuations in small communities.

Methods: We examined death certificates for Roseto and Bangor from 1935 to 1985. Age-standardized death rates and mortality ratios were computed for each decade.

Results: Rosetans had a lower mortality rate from myocardial infarction over the course of the first 30 years, but it rose to the level of Bangor's following a period of erosion of traditionally cohesive family and community relationships. This mortality-rate increase involved mainly younger Rosetan men and elderly women.

Conclusions: The data confirmed the existence of consistent mortality differences between Roseto and Bangor during a time when there were many indicators of greater social solidarity and homogeneity in Roseto.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ethnicity
  • Family
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / ethnology
  • Heart Failure / mortality
  • Humans
  • Italy / ethnology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / ethnology
  • Myocardial Infarction / mortality*
  • Pennsylvania / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Environment*