Differential Mortality and Longevity in Switzerland, 1990 - 2004

From Social Structures to Social Resources

Our research project has achieved a demographic and social analysis of mortality and longevity in Switzerland in the 1990s and early 2000s. Though life expectancies reach the highest values observed in human history, it would be wrong to neglect the persistence of deep inequalities of
mortality and the study of survival factors, i.e. the positive configurations that rise longevity. In this project, surviving or dying is the dependent variable, while individual social resources, ecological indicators and their interactions are the explanatory variables.
In many previous studies, demographers related social structures - as they had been defined by public statisticians - to a demographic event, death. In this project we consider (1) several personal characteristics (gender, age, matrimonial status, occupational and social status, educational level, citizenship or immigrant status and origin, household composition, housing conditions) that interact with (2) ecological, social, political, and cultural contexts, and examine the resulting pattern of differential mortality. The personal characteristics represent a set of individual social resources - a set of capabilities - used by each individual to cope with stress and preserve his or her life as long as possible. But individual uses depend on several contexts (political, socio-economic, cultural, physical territories) that have also to be considered.