Careers and mortality in France: evidence on how far occupational mobility predicts differentiated risks

Soc Sci Med. 2004 Jun;58(12):2545-58. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2003.09.028.


This new study goes beyond the well-established correlation between mortality differentials and occupational status, to focus on the impact of professional careers on mortality risk. It shows heterogeneity in the mortality risks within occupational classes, strongly related to the type of occupational moves experienced. The occupational data are taken from the French longitudinal census sample-using 1968 and 1975 census records-and mortality risks are estimated over the 1975-1980 period, for both occupational classes and pathways between classes. Results show a close relationship between occupational mobility and mortality. For men, favorable occupational moves-e.g. from clerks to upper class-put them less at risk of mortality than their counterparts who remained in their class. An inverse relationship is found for unfavorable moves. In most cases, the mortality risks of the movers are in between the risks in the class left and in the class joined. Similar patterns apply to specific groups of women only (upper classes, manual workers, clerks) for which occupational moves are probably driven, as for most men, by mortality related determinants (level of education, qualifications, health, etc.). The findings strongly support the use of a dynamic approach, based on individuals' experiences, to improve our understanding of mortality differentials.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Career Choice*
  • Cause of Death*
  • Employment
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy
  • Male
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Occupations*
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Class
  • Socioeconomic Factors