This study is an analysis of mortality levels and their patterns of change among different socio-economic groups in two eighteenth-century Dutch villages. In these two villages - Gilze and Rijen - there were substantial mortality differentials between farmers and agricultural labourers. Mortality differentials of this magnitude have not been found in other European villages, although they are not unheard of in cities. The differentials are probably unrelated to malnutrition, or a polluted water supply among the lower class. Relative overcrowding and poor hygiene are more probable causes. During the second half of the eighteenth century mortality levels were lower, especially among the lower class. These changes, however, did not result from a higher standard of living. They were probably related to a diminution in the amount of military activity on land in Europe after the War of the Austrian Succession.