The Socioeconomic Status of Offspring, Their Social Mobility, and the Mortality of Their Parents: An Examination of Extinct Cohorts

Zachary Zimmer, University of California, San Francisco
Ken R. Smith, University of Utah

Studies that examine connections between SES of adult offspring and mortality of older aged parents are rare. Yet, pathways that link SES and mortality implicate cross-generational social interactions as determinants. It is therefore likely that the influences of SES can be transmitted up the generational ladder. Using data on extinct cohorts from the Utah Population Database that link demographic sources including birth and death certificates, this study examines SES of offspring, their social mobility, and risks they generate for parental mortality. The sample includes over 27,000 whose children were born between 1886 and 1914. Regressions predicting time to death are used to construct life expectancies across categories of offspring SES conditioned on parental SES. Results suggest offspring SES impacts are over and above parent’s own. There is a longevity penalty for those whose children have low levels SES. There is a positive cross-generation upward social mobility influence on life expectancy.

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Presented in Session 71: SES, Health, and Mortality