Blane D, Harding S, Rosato M. Does social mobility affect the size of the socioeconomic mortality differential: evidence from the Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society (Series A) 1999; 162 (1): 59-70

The effect of social mobility on the socioeconomic differential in mortality is examined with data from the Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study. The analyses involve 46980 men aged 45-64 years in 1981. The mortality risk of the socially mobile is compared with the mortality risk of the socially stable after adjustment for their class of origin (their social class in 1971) and class of destination (their social class in 1981) separately. Among those in employment there is some evidence that movement out of their class of origin is in the direction predicted by the idea of health-related social mobility. This evidence, however, seems strongest for causes of death which are least likely to have been preceded by prolonged incapacity. Movement into the class of destination, however, shows the opposite relationship with mortality. Compared with the socially stable members of their class of destination, the upwardly mobile tend to have higher mortality and the downwardly mobile tend to have lower mortality. This relationship with the class of destination, it is suggested, may explain why socioeconomic mortality differentials do not widen with increasing age.