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Growing gaps: the importance of income and family for educational inequalities in mortality among Swedish men and women 1990–2009
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS).
2015 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, ISSN 1403-4948, E-ISSN 1651-1905, Vol. 43, no 6, 563-570 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Aims: Although absolute levels of mortality have decreased among Swedish men and women in recent decades, educational inequalities in mortality have increased, especially among women. The aim of this study is to disentangle the role of income and family type in educational inequalities in mortality in Sweden during 1990-2009, focusing on gender differences. Methods: Data on individuals born in Sweden between the ages of 30 and 74 years were collected from total population registries, covering a total of 529,275 deaths and 729 million person-months. Temporary life expectancies (age 30-74 years) by education were calculated using life tables, and rate ratios were estimated with Poisson regression with robust standard errors. Results: Temporary life expectancy improved among all groups except low educated women. Relative educational inequalities in mortality (RRs) increased from 1.79 to 1.98 among men and from 1.78 to 2.10 among women. Variation in family type explained some of the inequalities among men, but not among women, and did not contribute to the trend. Variation in income explained a larger part of the educational inequalities among men compared to women and also explained the increase in educational inequalities in mortality among men and women. Conclusions: Increasing educational inequalities in mortality in Sweden may be attributed to the increase in income inequalities in mortality.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 43, no 6, 563-570 p.
Keyword [en]
Health inequalities, education, income, mortality, gender, register data
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-117200DOI: 10.1177/1403494815585401ISI: 000360391600002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-117200DiVA: diva2:811742
Available from: 2015-05-13 Created: 2015-05-13 Last updated: 2017-09-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Understanding the Educational Gradient in Mortality
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Understanding the Educational Gradient in Mortality
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

There is a positive association between education and longevity. Individuals with a university degree tend to live longer than high school graduates who, in turn, live longer than those with compulsory education. These differences are neither larger nor smaller in Sweden than in other European countries, despite its ambitious welfare-state policies. Furthermore, educational differences in longevity are growing, especially among women.

In this thesis I look at the structural, individual and behavioral processes which generate and maintain the educational gradient in mortality. This is done by compiling theoretical insights and empirical research from a range of scientific disciplines. In doing so, this thesis aims to contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the educational gradient in mortality.

Several factors contribute to the association between education and health. Social and biological processes initiated in early life influence both educational achievement and adult health. Education helps individuals become more effective as agents by fostering generic skills such as information-gathering and decision-making. This aspect of education, learned effectiveness, promotes control and health regardless of available resources and prevailing conditions. Education thus has a direct influence on health. Education also indirectly influences health by giving access to better occupational positions and higher incomes, as well as by promoting social capital and healthy habits.

The empirical section of the thesis consists of four separate quantitative studies using register data. Three of the studies use Swedish national register data while one uses register data from 18 European populations. The results indicate that widening income inequalities in mortality have contributed to a widening of educational inequalities in mortality, since education is a determinant of income. Both alcohol and smoking contribute to educational inequalities in longevity, but smoking has played an especially pronounced role in the widening of inequalities among women. Smoking represents a significant part of the explanation as to why women with low education have experienced smaller gains in life expectancy than the rest of the population. The results also indicate that the general trend towards more well-educated populations has contributed to the widening educational inequalities in mortality in Europe and that education is a stronger predictor of mortality among low income-earners than among the rest of the population.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Sociology, Stockholm University, 2017
Series
Health Equity Studies, ISSN 1651-5390 ; 23
Keyword
social inequalites in health, education, mortality, register data, Sweden, smoking, alcohol
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-146655 (URN)978-91-7649-889-7 (ISBN)978-91-7649-890-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-10-27, hörsal 11, hus F, Universitetsvägen 10 F, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2017-10-04 Created: 2017-09-04 Last updated: 2017-09-20Bibliographically approved

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