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Relation between early life socioeconomic position and all cause mortality in two generations. A longitudinal study of Danish men born in 1953 and their parents
  1. Merete Osler,
  2. Anne-Marie Nybo Andersen,
  3. G David Batty,
  4. Bjørn Holstein
  1. Department of Social Medicine, Institute of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr M Osler Department of Social Medicine
 Institute of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 3, 2200 N, Denmark;


Objective: To examine (1) the relation between parental socioeconomic position and all cause mortality in two generations, (2) the relative importance of mother’s educational status and father’s occupational status on offspring mortality, and (3) the effect of factors in the family environment on these relations.

Design: A longitudinal study with record linkage to the Civil Registration System. The data were analysed using Cox regression models.

Setting: Copenhagen, Denmark.

Subjects: 2890 men born in 1953, whose mothers were interviewed regarding family social background in 1968. The vital status of this population and their parents was ascertained from April 1968 to January 2002.

Main outcome measures: All cause mortality in study participants, their mothers, and fathers.

Results: A similar pattern of relations was found between parental social position and all cause mortality in adult life in the three triads of father, mother, and offspring constituted of the cohort of men born in 1953, their parents, and grandparents. The educational status of mothers showed no independent effect on total mortality when father’s occupational social class was included in the model in either of the triads. Low material wealth was the indicator that remained significantly associated with adult all cause mortality in a model also including parental social position and the intellectual climate of the family in 1968. In the men born in 1953 the influence of material wealth was strongest for deaths later in adult life.

Conclusion: Father’s occupational social class is associated with adult mortality in all members of the mother-father-offspring triad. Material wealth seems to be an explanatory factor for this association.

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  • Funding: Danish Heart Association; the Lundbeck foundation; the Danish Health Insurrance Funds.

  • Conflicts of interests: none declared.

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