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Wealth and health in 19th Century Sweden. A study of social differences in adult mortality in the Sundsvall region


  • Edvinsson, Sören
  • Lindkvist, Marie


Abstract The present article analyses social inequality in mortality in the 19th century Sundsvall region, an area that experienced rapid industrialization after 1850. The purpose of the study is to investigate whether there were social differences in mortality in this context and whether these differences increased during the industrial break-through. The expected advantages for higher social classes could not be confirmed in this environment. Instead, the best survival was found among those belonging to the agricultural sector. We found a strongly gendered pattern, with much higher mortality for and small health differences among men, while the results indicate increasing social inequality in female mortality during industrialization. The spatial pattern of mortality was pronounced and living with a partner had a strong impact on survival, particularly for men. We finally discuss the role of gender and class expectations in relation to lifestyles for the social patterning of mortality.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:48:y:2011:i:3:p:376-388

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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, April.
    2. Bengtsson, Tommy & van Poppel, Frans, 2011. "Socioeconomic inequalities in death from past to present: An introduction," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 343-356, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hannaliis Jaadla & Allan Puur & Kaja Rahu, 2017. "Socioeconomic and cultural differentials in mortality in a late 19th century urban setting: A linked records study from Tartu, Estonia, 1897-1900," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 36(1), pages 1-40, January.
    2. Sören Edvinsson & Göran Broström, 2012. "Old age, health and social inequality," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 26(23), pages 633-660, June.
    3. Lazuka, Volha & Quaranta, Luciana & Bengtsson, Tommy, 2015. "Fighting Infectious Disease: Evidence from Sweden 1870-1940," IZA Discussion Papers 9313, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Ohlsson, Henry & Roine, Jesper & Waldenström, Daniel, 2014. "Inherited wealth over the path of development: Sweden, 1810–2010," Working Paper Series, Center for Fiscal Studies 2014:7, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    5. Aldashev, Gani & Guirkinger, Catherine, 2012. "Deadly anchor: Gender bias under Russian colonization of Kazakhstan," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 399-422.
    6. Gagnon, Alain & Tremblay, Marc & Vézina, Hélène & Seabrook, Jamie A., 2011. "Once were farmers: Occupation, social mobility, and mortality during industrialization in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec 1840-1971," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 429-440, July.


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