The question whether socioeconomic status gradients in adult mortality have changed over a broad historical period has become an important political and theoretical issue but is hard to test. In this article we study long-term trends in social inequality in adult mortality by using data for 2 (of the 11) provinces of the Netherlands for the period 1812–1922. We apply indirect estimation techniques, which have been developed for the analysis of mortality patterns in countries with deficient data. Our article shows that indeed there was a clear social class gradient in mortality, with the elite having higher survival chances between ages 35 and 55 than the middle class and farmers. Differences were even more apparent in comparison with workers. Over time there was a strong convergence among social classes in mortality levels. The implications of our results for the dominant views on the change in living standards in the past are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Science History
Journal publication date2009

ID: 247848