Socially disparate trends in lifespan variation: a trend study on income and mortality based on nationwide Danish register data

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BACKGROUND: Social inequality trends in life expectancy are not informative as to changes in social disparity in the age-at-death distribution. The purpose of the study was to investigate social differentials in trends and patterns of adult mortality in Denmark.

METHODS: Register data on income and mortality from 1986 to 2014 were used to investigate trends in life expectancy, life disparity and the threshold age that separates 'premature' and 'late' deaths. Mortality compression was quantified and compared between income quartiles.

RESULTS: Since 1986, male life expectancy increased by 4.2 years for the lowest income quartile and by 8.4 years for the highest income quartile. The clear compression of mortality apparent in the highest income quartile did not occur for the lowest income quartile. Premature and late deaths accounted both by 2.1 years of the increase in life expectancy in the lowest income quartile and by 6.0 and 2.4 years, respectively, in the highest income quartile. Life expectancy increased by 5.2 years among women in the lowest income quartile, 2.4 years due to premature deaths and 2.8 years due to late deaths. The gain in life expectancy among women in the highest income quartile of 5.6 years was distributed by 5.0 and 0.6 years due to premature and late deaths, respectively.

CONCLUSION: The study demonstrates that the increasing social gap in mortality appears differently in the change of the age-at-death distribution. Thus, no compression of mortality was seen in the lowest income quartile. The results do not provide support for a uniformly extension of pension age for all.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere014489
JournalB M J Open
Volume7
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
ISSN2044-6055
Publication statusPublished - May 2017

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