Abstract

Bartley M, Carpenter L, Dunnell K, Fitzpatrick R. Measuring inequalities in health: An analysis of mortality patterns using two social classifications. Sociology of Health & Illness 1996; 18 (4): 455-474.

The paper investigates relationship between mortality and social class as measured by the Erikson-Goldthorpe schema, a validated measure of employment conditions, and compares this with differentials found using the Registrar General's social classes. Two cohorts of men aged 15/16-64 were drawn from the OPCS Longitudinal Study for 1971 and 1981. Mortality differences between social classes were estimated using deaths occurring between 1976 and 1980 in the first cohort and 1986 and 1989 in the second. The two classification were formally compared by means of the Relative Index of Dissimilarity and a likelihood-based statistic. Similar mortality differentials were found using both classifications in the two time periods. The Erikson-Goldthorpe schema showed a clear pattern of higher mortality in those groups without a career structure and with lower discretion over their work. The paper concludes that inequalities in health are seen when a validated social class schema based on employment conditions is used. The use of validated measures will make it possible for health differences to be more clearly interpreted in policy terms.