Social Class, Social Mobility and Mortality in the Netherlands, 1850-2007

Niels Schenk, Erasmus University Rotterdam

In the historiographic literature an extremely dark picture is painted of the state of health of the working class in the Netherlands in the nineteenth century. Contrary to previously held views, socioeconomic differences in mortality still exist today. In this paper we try to contribute to the discussion about long-term trends in social inequality in mortality by making use of a database that relates to a much longer period than usually is the case. We apply various definitions of social class for men and women because we assume that the way in which social class is defined might have an effect on the observed SES-mortality differences. We find that social class differences in mortality among adults in Dutch historical cohorts are partly in line with findings from cross-sectional studies in the late nineteenth century. This is in clear contrast with previous literature showing no such association in the twentieth century.

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Presented in Session 170: Historical and Geographic Perspectives of Socioeconomic Differences in Mortality