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Lifespan variation by occupational class: compression or stagnation over time?

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Author Info

  • Alyson A. van Raalte

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Pekka Martikainen
  • Mikko Myrskylä

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

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    Abstract

    Adult lifespan variation in most western countries has stagnated since the 1960s, despite continued improvements in longevity. Cross-sectional analyses, however, find that in the 1990s higher socio-economic position was associated with lower lifespan variation. Trends in this association over time are unknown. We investigated trends in lifespan variation over four decades by occupational social class (manual, lower non-manual, upper non-manual) using Finnish register data (1971-2007). We performed age and cause-of-death decompositions of lifespan variation for each sex (a) by occupational class over time and (b) between occupational classes at a shared life expectancy. We found that although all occupational classes experienced increases in life expectancy, manual workers had stagnating lifespan variation over time while the higher occupational groups experienced mortality compression. These differences were caused by diverging trends in early adult mortality: all occupational classes experienced similar trends in lifespan variation at older ages, but variation in early adult mortality increased for all classes except the highest category. The high and stagnant lifespan variation of the manual class was mostly due to higher early adult mortality from external causes. These results suggest that mortality compression can be compatible with increases in life expectancy by tackling inequalities in early adult mortality.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany in its series MPIDR Working Papers with number WP-2012-010.

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    Length: 37 pages
    Date of creation: Feb 2012
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2012-010

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    Web page: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/

    Related research

    Keywords: Finland; adult mortality; age distribution; causes of death; mortality trends; socio-economic differentials;

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    References

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    1. Zhen Zhang & James W. Vaupel, 2009. "The age separating early deaths from late deaths," MPIDR Working Papers, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany WP-2009-004, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    2. Evgeny M. Andreev & Vladimir Shkolnikov & Alexander Z. Begun, 2002. "Algorithm for decomposition of differences between aggregate demographic measures and its application to life expectancies, healthy life expectancies, parity-progression ratios and total fertility rat," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 7(14), pages 499-522, October.
    3. A. Roger Thatcher & Siu Lan Karen Cheung & Shiro Horiuchi & Jean-Marie Robine, 2010. "The compression of deaths above the mode," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 22(17), pages 505-538, March.
    4. Zhen Zhang & James W. Vaupel, 2009. "The age separating early deaths from late deaths," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 20(29), pages 721-730, June.
    5. Vladimir Canudas-Romo, 2008. "The modal age at death and the shifting mortality hypothesis," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 19(30), pages 1179-1204, July.
    6. Nadine Ouellette & Robert Bourbeau, 2011. "Changes in the age-at-death distribution in four low mortality countries: A nonparametric approach," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 25(19), pages 595-628, September.
    7. Valkonen, Tapani, 1993. "Problems in the measurement and international comparison of socio-economic differences in mortality," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 409-418, February.
    8. Ryan D. Edwards & Shripad Tuljapurkar, 2005. "Inequality in Life Spans and a New Perspective on Mortality Convergence Across Industrialized Countries," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., The Population Council, Inc., vol. 31(4), pages 645-674.
    9. Ryan D. Edwards, 2011. "Changes in World Inequality in Length of Life: 1970–2000," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., The Population Council, Inc., vol. 37(3), pages 499-528, 09.
    10. Smits, Jeroen & Monden, Christiaan, 2009. "Length of life inequality around the globe," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 68(6), pages 1114-1123, March.
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