Socioeconomic inequalities in mortality among women and among men: an international study

Am J Public Health. 1999 Dec;89(12):1800-6. doi: 10.2105/ajph.89.12.1800.


Objectives: This study compared differences in total and cause-specific mortality by educational level among women with those among men in 7 countries: the United States, Finland, Norway, Italy, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Estonia.

Methods: National data were obtained for the period ca. 1980 to ca. 1990. Age-adjusted rate ratios comparing a broad lower-educational group with a broad upper-educational group were calculated with Poisson regression analysis.

Results: Total mortality rate ratios among women ranged from 1.09 in the Czech Republic to 1.31 in the United States and Estonia. Higher mortality rates among lower-educated women were found for most causes of death, but not for neoplasms. Relative inequalities in total mortality tended to be smaller among women than among men. In the United States and Western Europe, but not in Central and Eastern Europe, this sex difference was largely due to differences between women and men in cause-of-death pattern. For specific causes of death, inequalities are usually larger among men.

Conclusions: Further study of the interaction between socioeconomic factors, sex, and mortality may provide important clues to the explanation of inequalities in health.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cause of Death
  • Education*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Europe, Eastern / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk
  • Sex Distribution
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Women's Health*