Clio and the Health Gradient: Social Class and Sex-Specific Adult Mortality during 200 Years in Sweden

Göran R. Broström, Umeå University
Martin Dribe, Lund University
Sören Edvinsson, Umeå University
Björn Eriksson, Lund University

All over the developed world there is a SES gradient in health and mortality for adults. These mortality differentials have also widened since the 1970s in the countries for which there are data. Our knowledge about conditions in the more distant past is much more rudimentary, and we do not know when and why the mortality gradient emerged. In this paper, we study SES differences adult mortality (ages 40-60 and 60-90) over a period of more than 200 years. The analysis is based on individual-level mortality data from different areas of Sweden. By combining parish-level data for southern and northern Sweden for the period from about 1800-1970, with full-count data from historical censuses (1880-1910, 1950), comprehensive death registers (1860-2015), and nation-wide censuses and population registers (1960-2014) we present an analysis of the long-term development of mortality differentials using a totally unique data source of enormous scope. Using data on occupation we measure SES by HISCLASS and estimate class differences in sex-specific adult mortality by survival analysis. Preliminary results suggest that today’s mortality gradient by SES is of a recent origin coinciding with the development of modern medicine and welfare society, while men in higher classes had higher mortality than other groups in the beginning of the twentieth century, and possibly also before that.

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 Presented in Session 219. Kinship and SES Effects on Adult Mortality and Longevity