How much does socioeconomic inequality contribute to total lifespan inequality?

Alyson A. van Raalte, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Anton Kunst, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam
Johan P. Mackenbach, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam

The average inter-individual difference in lifespan remains between 6.3 and 10.5 years in advanced economies, depending on the gender and the country . Meanwhile people of lower socioeconomic groupings are consistently shown to have higher mortality than those of higher socioeconomic groupings. In this paper, we quantify how much these socioeconomic differentials contribute to the total dispersion in lifespan. We use data assembled and harmonised as part of the Eurothine project, which includes census-based data from a wide range of European countries. We measure inequality separately by gender from the period life table death density using Theil’s entropy index, which can be decomposed into between- and within-group inequality. We compare our findings to studies that have quantified the contribution of socioeconomic inequality to the distribution of morbidity. We expect that the results will help to better understand and interpret total lifespan inequalities, and between-country variations in these inequalities.

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Presented in Session 196: Socio-economic inequality and mortality