Socioeconomic Gradients in Morbidity in the Late 19th Century: An Examination of Self-Reported Conditions by Households Enumerated in the 1880 Census

Tami C. Swenson, University of Minnesota
Senka Hadzic, University of Minnesota
Elaine Hernandez, University of Minnesota

Background: Socioeconomic gradient effects in late 19th century mortality have been well documented, but the examination of gradient effects and morbidity conditions has received less attention. Design: This paper analyses the 1880 1% PUMS data to examine all-cause morbidity and compares chronic and infectious diseases. Findings: Using a socioeconomic index based on occupation classification, preliminary findings from the existing 1% 1880 PUMS suggest that gradient effects in morbidity are evident but to a limited extent. The relationship between socioeconomic status and infectious diseases is a steeper gradient than that of chronic conditions. Conclusions: Contemporary theories of health inequality suggest that differences in prevalence of morbidity conditions are rooted in inequalities within the social structure. Findings of gradient effects in the late 19th century further support these theories.

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Presented in Poster Session 4