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Old age, health and social inequality

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Author Info

  • Sören Edvinsson

    (Umeå University)

  • Göran Broström

    (Umeå University)

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    Abstract

    Social position and access to economic resources are major determinants of health and mortality. Their impact varies, however, across countries, historical contexts and throughout the life course. The present article analyses social differences in health among elderly in an historical setting – the Sundsvall region in northern Sweden during the 19th century. We investigate whether social mortality differences are particularly apparent in old age when unpropertied groups lost their most important asset for survival – their capacity to work. Furthermore, we explore possible gender differences as well as temporal due to changes in the economic and social conditions. The results present a complex picture on the relation between mortality and wealth that causes us to question the accepted “facts†of social health differences as a historical constant. Higher social position did not lead to better survival, and vulnerability in old age did not increase social differences in mortality.

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    File URL: http://www.demographic-research.org/volumes/vol26/23/26-23.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany in its journal Demographic Research.

    Volume (Year): 26 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 23 (June)
    Pages: 633-660

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    Handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:26:y:2012:i:23

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    Web page: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/

    Related research

    Keywords: 19th century; life course; old age mortality; social differences in mortality; Sundsvall region; Sweden;

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    References

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    1. Smith, Ken R. & Mineau, Geraldine P. & Garibotti, Gilda & Kerber, Richard, 2009. "Effects of childhood and middle-adulthood family conditions on later-life mortality: Evidence from the Utah Population Database, 1850-2002," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(9), pages 1649-1658, May.
    2. Edvinsson, Sören & Lindkvist, Marie, 2011. "Wealth and health in 19th Century Sweden. A study of social differences in adult mortality in the Sundsvall region," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 376-388, July.
    3. Bengtsson, Tommy & Dribe, Martin, 2011. "The late emergence of socioeconomic mortality differentials: A micro-level study of adult mortality in southern Sweden 1815-1968," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 389-400, July.
    4. Huisman, Martijn & Kunst, Anton E. & Mackenbach, Johan P., 2003. "Socioeconomic inequalities in morbidity among the elderly; a European overview," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 57(5), pages 861-873, September.
    5. Samuel H. Preston & Michael R. Haines, 1991. "Fatal Years: Child Mortality in Late Nineteenth-Century America," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number pres91-1, October.
    6. Grundy, Emily & Sloggett, Andy, 2003. "Health inequalities in the older population: the role of personal capital, social resources and socio-economic circumstances," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(5), pages 935-947, March.
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