Life course epidemiology concentrates on the contribution that social or physical exposures have across the life course on adult health. It is known that the area of residence can affect health, but little is known about the effect of the area of residence across the life course. We examine the contribution that area of residence in 1960, 1970, 1980 and 1990 made on subsequent mortality for 49736 male inhabitants of Oslo in 1990. We compare the performance of multiple-membership and cross-classified multilevel models on these data with a correlated cross-classified model that was developed for this. Copyright Journal compilation (c) 2009 Royal Statistical Society.