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Inequality in Life Expectancies across Europe


  • Bohacek, Radim
  • Bueren, Jesus
  • Crespo, Laura
  • Mira, Pedro Solbes
  • Pijoan-Mas, Josep


We use harmonized household panel data from 10 European countries (SHARE), the US (HRS), and England (ELSA) to provide novel and comparable measurements of education and gender differences in life expectancy, years in disability, and the underlying multi-state life tables. Common across countries we find substantial interactions between socio-economic status and gender: (a) the education advantage in life expectancy is larger for males, while the education advantage in disability years is larger for females; and relatedly (b) the female advantage in life expectancy and the female disadvantage in disability years are both greatly reduced with education. These interactions happen because the education advantage is relatively more important in health transitions than in conditional survival among females, whereas the converse is true among males. Looking at the differences across countries, inequalities are largest in Eastern Europe and lowest in Scandinavia, while the US stands out as the most unequal across education groups in terms of health transitions and disability-free life expectancy. Finally, we find that countries with higher public health spending have smaller education advantage in conditional survival, the same advantage in health transitions, and smaller gradients in life expectancy.

Suggested Citation

  • Bohacek, Radim & Bueren, Jesus & Crespo, Laura & Mira, Pedro Solbes & Pijoan-Mas, Josep, 2018. "Inequality in Life Expectancies across Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 13184, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13184

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Libertad González & Ana Rodríguez‐González, 2021. "Inequality in Mortality in Spain," Fiscal Studies, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 42(1), pages 103-121, March.

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    More about this item


    education gradient; Gender Gap; healthy life expectancy; Life Expectancy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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