“Long Live the Family. The Rise of Familial Health Advantages in Sweden 1813–2022”
The project is motivated by the wide gap in the length of life by socioeconomic status: the social gradient in mortality. In Sweden, the gap in the length of life by socioeconomic status emerged in about the 1950ies for women and 1970ies for men. Even in the absence of a population-level social gradient in mortality, patterns of health and survival are and were shared in families. Historically, large disparities existed in lifestyle between lower and higher classes, and higher classes in particular had increased risk of lifestyle-related disease related to smoking, drinking and a sedentary lifestyle. In turn, among lower socioeconomic status groups infectious disease mortality may have been relatively higher and persisted longer. Causes of death analyses from historical Sweden confirm this broad picture, but leave open the question when family-shared factors started to contribute to inequalities in mortality.
In this project, we identify families with beneficial survival in comparison to the population, and investigate the timing and mechanisms of the emergence of a social gradient in mortality in Sweden. Further, we address how morbidity and mortality in long-lived families are affected by the changing disease environment.