IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Increasing socio-economic inequalities in life expectancy and QALYs in Sweden 1980-1997


  • Kristina Burström

    (Department of Public Health Sciences, Division of Social Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden)

  • Magnus Johannesson

    (Centre for Health Economics, Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden)

  • Finn Diderichsen

    (Department of Public Health Sciences, Division of Social Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden)


The aim of this study was to estimate the change in socio-economic differences in life expectancy and in quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), for men and women at different ages, in Sweden 1980 to 1997. We used data from the Swedish Survey of Living Conditions (the ULF survey), which is linked to mortality data, to estimate the life expectancy in different socio-economic groups in 1980 and 1997 (n=100 868). Health state scores were obtained by mapping responses to selected ULF survey interview questions into the generic health-related quality of life measure EQ-5D, using the UK EQ-5D index tariff (n=34 447). For 20-year-old men the difference in life expectancy between the highest (higher non-manual) and the lowest socio-economic group (unskilled manual) was 2.11 years in 1980 and 3.79 years in 1997. The corresponding figures for 20-year-old women were 1.56 in 1980 and 2.15 in 1997. The difference in QALYs between the highest and the lowest socio-economic group increased from 5.76 QALYs in 1980 to 7.06 QALYs in 1997 for 20-year-old men, and from 4.14 QALYs in 1980 to 5.66 QALYs in 1997 for 20-year-old women. The widening socio-economic inequalities over time were more stable for men than for women. We conclude that our results suggest that the socio-economic inequality in health has increased between 1980 and 1997 in Sweden. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Kristina Burström & Magnus Johannesson & Finn Diderichsen, 2005. "Increasing socio-economic inequalities in life expectancy and QALYs in Sweden 1980-1997," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(8), pages 831-850.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:14:y:2005:i:8:p:831-850 DOI: 10.1002/hec.977

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Link to full text; subscription required
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alan Williams, 1997. "Intergenerational Equity: An Exploration of the 'Fair Innings' Argument," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 6(2), pages 117-132.
    2. van Doorslaer, Eddy & Wagstaff, Adam & Bleichrodt, Han & Calonge, Samuel & Gerdtham, Ulf-G. & Gerfin, Michael & Geurts, Jose & Gross, Lorna & Hakkinen, Unto & Leu, Robert E., 1997. "Income-related inequalities in health: some international comparisons," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 93-112, February.
    3. Gerdtham, Ulf-G. & Johannesson, Magnus, 2000. "Income-related inequality in life-years and quality-adjusted life-years," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 1007-1026, November.
    4. Paul Contoyannis & Martin Forster, 1999. "'Our healthier nation'?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(4), pages 289-296.
    5. Torrance, George W., 1986. "Measurement of health state utilities for economic appraisal : A review," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 1-30, March.
    6. Contoyannis, Paul & Forster, Martin, 1999. "The distribution of health and income: a theoretical framework," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(5), pages 603-620, October.
    7. Wagstaff, Adam & Paci, Pierella & van Doorslaer, Eddy, 1991. "On the measurement of inequalities in health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 545-557, January.
    8. Kakwani, Nanak & Wagstaff, Adam & van Doorslaer, Eddy, 1997. "Socioeconomic inequalities in health: Measurement, computation, and statistical inference," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 87-103, March.
    9. Burstrom, Kristina & Johannesson, Magnus & Diderichsen, Finn, 2001. "Health-related quality of life by disease and socio-economic group in the general population in Sweden," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 51-69, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Wittmann, Nadine, 2014. "Economic reasoning on the correlation between life expectancy and economic development: Exploring alternative routes," Economics Discussion Papers 2014-43, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    2. Domeij David & Johannesson Magnus, 2006. "Consumption and Health," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 1-30, May.
    3. Gerdtham, Ulf-G & Lundborg, Petter & Lyttkens, Carl Hampus & Nystedt, Paul, 2012. "Do Socioeconomic Factors Really Explain Income-Related Inequalities in Health? Applying a Twin Design to Standard Decomposition Analysis," Working Papers 2012:21, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    4. Lee, Nick & Cadogan, John W., 2013. "Problems with formative and higher-order reflective variables," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 242-247.
    5. Nordin , Martin & Gerdtham , Ulf-G, 2010. "Why a positive link between age and income-related health inequality?," Working Papers 2010:12, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    6. Philip Clarke & Tom Van Ourti, 2009. "Correcting the Bias in the Concentration Index when Income is Grouped," CEPR Discussion Papers 599, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
    7. Costa-Font, Joan & Hernández-Quevedo, Cristina, 2012. "Measuring inequalities in health: What do we know? What do we need to know?," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 106(2), pages 195-206.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:14:y:2005:i:8:p:831-850. 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: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.