Objective: To examine trends in socio-economic differentials in all-cause mortality in Sydney over a 25-year period (1970-94).
Methods: Five measures of single indicators (two for occupation, two for education and one for income) and a composite measure of socio-economic disadvantage based on Census data (the Australian Bureau of Statistics' Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage) were used as indicators of socio-economic status by local govemment area. The relationship between mortality and socio-economic status was examined using quintiles based on these six measures of socio-economic status.
Results: Socio-economic differentials in mortality were evident for males and females for all periods, and over the 25-year period the relative socio-economic differentials did not decline. For males, the socio-economic status differential in mortality widened, irrespective of socio-economic status indicator used, whereas for females it widened only when certain socio-economic indicators were used: occupation (unemployment measure) and income, but was not significant for the other single indicators or for the composite indicator.
Conclusions: Sydney trends of widening inequalities are generally similar to those reported for Britain and for other industrialised countries, suggesting that this is a common phenomenon and that policies to reduce health inequalities over the past quarter of a century have not been effective.