Socioeconomic inequalities in mortality rates in old age in the World Health Organization Europe Region

M. Huisman, S. Read, C.A. Towriss, D.J.H. Deeg, E. Grundy

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89 Citations (Scopus)


Socioeconomic adversity is among the foremost fundamental causes of human suffering, and this is no less true in old age. Recent reports on socioeconomic inequalities in mortality rate in old age suggest that a low socioeconomic position continues to increase the risk of death even among the oldest old. We aimed to examine the evidence for socioeconomic mortality rate inequalities in old age, including information about associations with various indicators of socioeconomic position and for various geographic locations within the World Health Organization Region for Europe. The articles included in this review leave no doubt that inequalities in mortality rate by socioeconomic position persist into the oldest ages for both men and women in all countries for which information is available, although the relative risk measures observed were rarely higher than 2.00. Still, the available evidence base is heavily biased geographically, inasmuch as it is based largely on national studies from Nordic and Western European countries and local studies from urban areas in Southern Europe. This bias will hamper the design of European-wide policies to reduce inequalities in mortality rate. We call for a continuous update of the empiric evidence on socioeconomic inequalities in mortality rate. © 2013 The Author. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-97
JournalEpidemiologic Reviews
Issue number1
Early online date4 Feb 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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