Was There a Whitehall Effect in the UK in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries?

Nicola Shelton, University College London

Recent work by Nicholas showed a reverse social gradient in white collar workers’ mortality and role type in 1930s US. This paper discusses whether there is a Whitehall effect within the UK postal workforce in the Victorian and Edwardian era. Whitehall I and II studies have shown an inverse association between job grade and mortality in late twentieth century civil servants. Using data from the Addressing Health project this paper will look at mortality in Victorian and Edwardian postal workers by occupational role, adjusting for age, sex and geographic workplace location. The job strain model will be considered to see whether relatively low control high strain, but collective jobs had different outcomes than those that were high control high strain, but isolated jobs. As the largest employer within the Victorian Civil Service, the Post Office enables investigation of the links between sickness at work and the eventual death of the worker. By 1900 it employed over 167,000 workers, and 1/5 of the workforce was female. The Post Office paid a pension to any worker who retired from sickness or age and had been employed permanently for at least ten years, paid for under the 1859 Superannuation Act. The number of days sick in the ten years prior to retirement and a note of the medical cause were entered on the pension record. From 1860-1908, there are approximately 27,000 surviving records. We have traced approximately 8000 individuals through to their date of death, allowing us to estimate survival rates for different sets of workers. To these records we have added the death certificates for workers who retired in each of the decennial census years 1861-1901, amounting to over 1300 individuals which provides additional evidence as to cause of death.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 40. Religion, Race, Policy and Socioeconomic status: Mortality in 19th and 20th century UK and US