Objectives: To evaluate the size of social inequities in health between regions in Belgium using a composite health measure, the disability free life expectancy (DFLE).
Methods: Mortality data (5-years follow-up of the 1991 census) are combined with the 1997 Health Interview Survey to estimate the DFLE by education. Differences in partial life expectancy25-74 (LE25-74) and in DFLE25-74 between those at the bottom and those at the top of a relative social scale are used to compare the regional inequities.
Results: The higher educated person has a longer LE, with more years free of disability and less years with disability (in years: Flemish males: LE = 46.48; DFLE = 42.08; Walloon males: LE = 44.92; DFLE = 39.80; Flemish females: LE = 47.90; DFLE = 41.93; Walloon females: LE = 46.90; DFLE = 39.84) compared to the population at the bottom of the education hierarchy (in years: Flemish males: LE = 44.86; DFLE = 30.16; Walloon males: LE = 42.77; DFLE = 27.00; Flemish females: LE = 46.86; DFLE = 28.30; Walloon females: LE = 45.44; DFLE = 25.30). The inequity in LE and in DFLE is larger in the Walloon Region than in the Flemish Region. Only the regional difference in inequity in LE is statistically significant.
Conclusion: The DFLE can be used to monitor the size of health inequities.