IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Socioeconomic inequalities in old-age mortality: A comparison of Denmark and the USA

Listed author(s):
  • Hoffmann, Rasmus
Registered author(s):

    Previous studies have reported important variations in the magnitude of health inequalities between countries that belong to different welfare systems. This suggests that there is scope for reducing health inequalities by means of country-level interventions. The present study adds to this literature by exploring whether the magnitude of socioeconomic inequalities in mortality is associated with social inequality levels. Denmark and the USA belong to fundamentally different welfare systems (social democratic and liberal) and our study thereby contributes to the ongoing debate on whether welfare systems are linked to health inequalities. We analyze Denmark and the USA in terms of socioeconomic differences in mortality above age 58. The data sources were Danish register data from 1980 to 2002 (n = 2,029,324), and survey data from the US Health and Retirement Study (HRS) from 1992 to 2006 (n = 9374). Survival analysis was used to study the impact of socioeconomic status on mortality and the magnitude of mortality differences between the two countries was compared. The results showed surprisingly that mortality differentials were larger in Denmark than in the USA even after controlling for a number of covariates: The poorest 10 percent of the Danish elderly population have a mortality rate ratio of 3.32 (men) and 3.70 (women) compared to the richest 25 percent. In the USA the corresponding rate ratios are 1.67 and 1.56. Low income seems to be a more powerful risk factor for mortality than low education. A number of possible explanations for higher mortality differences in Denmark are discussed: unintended positive correlation between generous health services and health inequality, early life influences, mortality selection, and relative deprivation.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953611002577
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 72 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 12 (June)
    Pages: 1986-1992

    as
    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:72:y:2011:i:12:p:1986-1992
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/315/description#description

    Order Information: Postal: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/supportfaq.cws_home/regional
    Web: http://www.elsevier.com/orderme/journalorderform.cws_home/315/journalorderform1/orderooc/id=654&ref=654_01_ooc_1&version=01

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as
    in new window


    1. Vaupel, James W, 1998. "Demographic Analysis of Aging and Longevity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 242-247, May.
    2. Roberto G. Gutierrez, 2002. "Parametric frailty and shared frailty survival models," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 2(1), pages 22-44, February.
    3. Henrik Brønnum-Hansen & Otto Andersen & Mette Kjøller & Niels Rasmussen, 2004. "Social gradient in life expectancy and health expectancy in Denmark," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 49(1), pages 36-41, January.
    4. Mackenbach, Johan P. & Kunst, Anton E., 1997. "Measuring the magnitude of socio-economic inequalities in health: An overview of available measures illustrated with two examples from Europe," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 44(6), pages 757-771, March.
    5. James P. Smith, 2007. "The Impact of Socioeconomic Status on Health over the Life-Course," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(4).
    6. Knesebeck, Olaf von dem & Lüschen, Günther & Cockerham, William C. & Siegrist, Johannes, 2003. "Socioeconomic status and health among the aged in the United States and Germany: A comparative cross-sectional study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 57(9), pages 1643-1652, November.
    7. Peter Adams & Michael D. Hurd & Daniel L. McFadden & Angela Merrill & Tiago Ribeiro, 2004. "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise? Tests for Direct Causal Paths between Health and Socioeconomic Status," NBER Chapters,in: Perspectives on the Economics of Aging, pages 415-526 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. World Bank, 2004. "World Development Indicators 2004," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13890, September.
    9. Michael D. Hurd & Daniel McFadden & Angela Merrill, 2001. "Predictors of Mortality among the Elderly," NBER Chapters,in: Themes in the Economics of Aging, pages 171-198 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Michael Hurd & Susann Rohwedder, 2006. "Consumption and Economic Well-Being at Older Ages: Income- and Consumption-Based Poverty Measures in the HRS," Working Papers wp110, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    11. F. Thomas Juster & Richard Suzman, 1995. " An Overview of the Health and Retirement Study," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30, pages s7-s56.
    12. repec:dau:papers:123456789/10510 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Rasmus Hoffmann, 2005. "Do socioeconomic mortality differences decrease with rising age?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 13(2), pages 35-62, August.
    14. Huisman, Martijn & Kunst, Anton E. & Mackenbach, Johan P., 2003. "Socioeconomic inequalities in morbidity among the elderly; a European overview," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 57(5), pages 861-873, September.
    15. Scott Lynch, 2003. "Cohort and life-course patterns in the relationship between education and health: A hierarchical approach," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 40(2), pages 309-331, May.
    16. Elo, Irma T. & Preston, Samuel H., 1996. "Educational differentials in mortality: United States, 1979-1985," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 47-57, January.
    17. Arber, Sara & Ginn, Jay, 1993. "Gender and inequalities in health in later life," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 33-46, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:72:y:2011:i:12:p:1986-1992. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.