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Cumulative social class and mortality from various causes of adult men


Study objective: It is possible that circumstances over the lifecourse contribute to social inequalities in mortality in adulthood. The aim of this study is to assess the cumulative effect of social class at childhood and adulthood on mortality from various causes of death in young adult men.

Design: The data consist of census records for all Finnish men born in 1956–60 (112 735 persons and 895 001 person years), and death records (1834 deaths) by cause of death for 1991–98.

Main results: Mortality from each cause of death increased from the stable non-manual group to mobile groups, and further to the stable manual group. However, mortality in the downwardly mobile group was 150% higher than in the upwardly mobile group. Furthermore, analyses show that mortality was mainly related to current adult social class, though, within each adult social class men with a manual parental background showed slightly increased mortality from cardiovascular disease and from alcohol related causes.

Conclusions: In these data the effects of adult social class were stronger than childhood class for all causes of death. It is more useful to differentiate between childhood and adulthood effects than to use a combined measure of social class to assess the contribution of social class at different stages of life on mortality.

  • mortality
  • lifecourse
  • social class

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