Old age, health and social inequality
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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