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

Author

Listed:
  • Alyson A. van Raalte

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

  • Pekka Martikainen

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

  • Mikko Myrskylä

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

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Alyson A. van Raalte & Pekka Martikainen & Mikko Myrskylä, 2012. "Lifespan variation by occupational class: compression or stagnation over time?," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2012-010, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2012-010
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ryan D. Edwards, 2011. "Changes in World Inequality in Length of Life: 1970–2000," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 37(3), pages 499-528, September.
    2. Evgeny M. Andreev & Vladimir M. Shkolnikov & Alexander 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. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Smits, Jeroen & Monden, Christiaan, 2009. "Length of life inequality around the globe," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(6), pages 1114-1123, March.
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    7. Zhen Zhang & James W. Vaupel, 2009. "The age separating early deaths from late deaths," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2009-004, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
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    9. 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., vol. 31(4), pages 645-674.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General

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