The Late Emergence of Socioeconomic Mortality Differentials: A Micro-Level Study of Working Age and Elderly Mortality in Southern Sweden 1815-1968

Tommy Bengtsson, Lund University
Martin Dribe, Lund University

This paper deals with socioeconomic differences in mortality among adults and the elderly in a rural area of southern Sweden from 1815 to 1968. It is a period of falling mortality in all age-groups. We use longitudinal micro-level data with information on demographic events including migration, on household structure and occupations, which are coded and classified using international standards (HISCO, SOCPO). We find that the socioeconomic gradient is a very recent phenomenon. While mortality falls in all socioeconomic groups, it is not until the 1950s that a socioeconomic gradient appears, and then only among adults in working ages. For the elderly, we find no significant mortality differentials between various social groups at any time. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that a divergence has taken place, although much later than previously anticipated and not as a result of the break-through of the industrial society.

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Presented in Session 67: Early Life Health and Later Life Outcomes