Socioeconomic inequalities in death from past to present: An introduction
In the early postwar period, improvements in life expectancy in many Western countries made health authorities, health scientists and politicians believe that social differences in mortality converged. The assumption was that inequality, when measured as death rates, was on steady decline, possibly even on the brink of disappearing. The question is then, how far back in time can social differences in mortality be traced? Can they be traced back to the agricultural society or are they a result of industrialization? Whether or not these differences are the result of the industrial revolution became a lively debated issue at the time and has continued to be discussed to date. While many scholars have taken a Malthusian view, that mortality in the past was largely determined by economic factors, others argue that mortality was determined by non-economic factors, leaving little room for a social gradient in mortality. Due to lack of coherent data covering long time periods, our knowledge has been based on bits and pieces of evidence from various locations and time periods. The evidence used is not only fragmentary but furthermore only partly comparable as different definitions of social class and mortality have been used. Here we present results from seven new studies of locations in Western and Southern Europe, the US and Canada for which individual-level longitudinal data exists during the industrialization period. Most of these studies cover also the first part of the twentieth century, a period for which such microdata hitherto has largely been lacking. Taken together, they have a wide geographic coverage and a very long time horizon. Based on these studies, we argue that social differences appeared both long before and long after the industrial breakthrough, in both cases implying that these differences are not directly related to industrialization. We also argue that the association between income and mortality observed today most likely is a recent phenomenon. Overall, a causal link between income and mortality is put into question.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Richard H. Steckel, 2008.
"Heights and Human Welfare: Recent Developments and New Directions,"
NBER Working Papers
14536, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Steckel, Richard H., 2009. "Heights and human welfare: Recent developments and new directions," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 1-23, January.
- Editors, 2003. "Editor's Introduction," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(2), pages 315-318, 04.
- Michael R. Haines, 2010. "Inequality and Infant and Childhood Mortality in the United States in the Twentieth Century," NBER Working Papers 16133, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- FFF1Anton E. NNN1Kunst & FFF2Vivian NNN2Bos & FFF2Otto NNN2Andersen & FFF2Mario NNN2Cardano & FFF2Giuseppe NNN2Costa & FFF2Seeromanie NNN2Harding & FFF2Örjan NNN2Hemström & FFF2Richard NNN2Layte & FFF, 2004. "Monitoring of trends in socioeconomic inequalities in mortality," Demographic Research Special Collections, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 2(9), pages 229-254, April.
- Sen, Amartya, 1998.
"Mortality as an Indicator of Economic Success and Failure,"
Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(446), pages 1-25, January.
- Amartya Sen, 1995. "Mortality as an Indicator of Economic Success and Failure," Papers innlec95/2, Innocenti Lectures.
- Haines, Michael R., 2011. "Inequality and infant and childhood mortality in the United States in the twentieth century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 418-428, July.
- Janet Currie & Mark Stabile, 2002. "Socioeconomic Status and Health: Why is the Relationship Stronger for Older Children?," NBER Working Papers 9098, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Schumacher, Reto & Oris, Michel, 2011. "Long-term changes in social mortality differentials, Geneva, 1625-2004," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 357-365, July.
- Breschi, M. & Fornasin, A. & Manfredini, M. & Mazzoni, S. & Pozzi, L., 2011. "Socioeconomic conditions, health and mortality from birth to adulthood, Alghero 1866-1925," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 366-375, July.
- Editors, 2003. "Editor's Introduction," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(4), pages 645-648, October.
- repec:dau:papers:123456789/10510 is not listed on IDEAS
- Gregory Clark, 2007. "Introduction to A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World," Introductory Chapters, in: A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World Princeton University Press.
- Feinstein, Charles H., 1998. "Pessimism Perpetuated: Real Wages and the Standard of Living in Britain during and after the Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(03), pages 625-658, September.
- Toynbee, Arnold, 1884. "Lectures on the Industrial Revolution in England," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number toynbee1884.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:48:y:2011:i:3:p:343-356. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.