Intergenerational class mobility and cardiovascular mortality among Swedish women: a population-based register study

Soc Sci Med. 2009 Feb;68(4):733-9. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.11.017. Epub 2008 Dec 16.


Class inequalities in cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality are well documented, but the impact of intergenerational class mobility on CVD mortality among women has not been studied thoroughly. We examined whether women's mobility trajectories might contribute to CVD mortality beyond what could be expected from their childhood and adult social class position. The Swedish Work and Mortality Data Base provided childhood (1960) and adulthood (1990) social indicators. Women born 1945-59 (N=791 846) were followed up for CVD mortality 1990-2002 (2019 deaths) by means of logistic regression analysis. CVD mortality risks were estimated for 16 mobility trajectories. Gross and net impact of four childhood and four adult classes, based on occupation, were analysed for mortality in ischemic heart disease (IHD), stroke, other CVD, - and all CVD. Differences between the two most extreme trajectories were 10-fold, but the common trajectory of moving from manual to non-manual position was linked to only a slight excess mortality (OR=1.26) compared to the equally common trajectory of maintaining a stable non-manual position (reference category). Moving into adult manual class resulted in an elevated CVD mortality whatever the childhood position (ORs varied between 1.42 and 2.24). After adjustment for adult class, childhood class had some effect, in particular there was a low risk of coming from a self-employed childhood class on all outcomes (all ORs around=0.80). A woman's own education had a stronger influence on the mortality estimates than did household income. Social mobility trajectories among Swedish women are linked to their CVD mortality risk. Educational achievement seems to be a key factor for intergenerational continuity and discontinuity in class-related risk of CVD mortality among Swedish women. However, on mutual adjustment, adult class was much more closely related to CVD mortality than was class in childhood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Class
  • Social Mobility*
  • Sweden / epidemiology