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Occupational class, capitalist class advantage and mortality among working-age men
  1. Lauri Kokkinen1,
  2. Carles Muntaner2,3,
  3. Aki Koskinen4,
  4. Ari Väänänen5
  1. 1 Faculty of Social Sciences, Tampere University, Tampere, Finland
  2. 2 Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3 Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  4. 4 Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland
  5. 5 Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland
  1. Correspondence to Lauri Kokkinen, Faculty of Social Sciences, Tampere University, Tampere, Finland; lauri.kokkinen{at}


Background Disparities in mortality have been firmly established across occupational grades and the incomes they earn, but this line of research has failed to include individuals’ relationships to capital, as suggested by class analysists.

Methods According to Wright’s classification, the research generated 10 mutually exclusive classes based on occupation and investment income: worker; capitalist worker; professional; capitalist professional; supervisor; capitalist supervisor; manager; capitalist manager; self-employed; and capitalist self-employed. The study participants (n=268 239) were randomly selected from the Statistics Finland population database and represent 33% of Finnish men aged 30–64 years. The mortality data were monitored over the 1995–2014 period.

Results The sociodemographic-adjusted HRs for mortality were lowest for capitalist managers (HR 0.50; 95% CI 0.36 to 0.69) as compared with that for workers without a capitalist class advantage. A positive occupational class gradient was found from managers to supervisors to workers. The capitalist class advantage independently affected the disparities in mortality within this occupational hierarchy.

Conclusion Different occupational class locations protect against premature death differently, and the capitalist class advantage widens the premature-death disparities among the occupational classes. To monitor and explain social inequalities in health in a more nuanced way, future research on investment income as well as the operationalisation of the capitalist class advantage is encouraged.

  • social class
  • mortality
  • longitudinal studies

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  • Contributors LPMK was involved in designing the research questions and drafting the manuscript for content, including analysis and interpretation of data. CM and AV were involved in revising the manuscript for content and critically reviewing drafts of the article. AK was involved in analysis of data. All authors have approved the final version of the manuscript and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

  • Funding This work was supported by the Academy of Finland (grant number 267 172).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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