Objectives: This study examined socioeconomic disparities in alcohol-related mortality among Korean men aged 40-59 years during the period before and after the economic crisis in the late 1990s.
Methods: We used Korean Census data (1995, 2005) and data from the National Death Files (1994-1996, 2004-2006) on education and employment status as indicators of socioeconomic position. Based on the age-standardized rates of alcohol-attributable deaths, relative discrepancies across socioeconomic positions were estimated.
Results: Socially disadvantaged men were substantially disadvantaged in terms of alcohol-attributable mortality in both years. The disadvantage of men with the lowest level of education relative to the highest was worse in 2005 than in 1995. The relative disadvantage in alcohol-attributable deaths seemed to narrow over time based on the rate ratios. However, the relative index of inequality was higher in 2005 compared to 1995 for both education and occupation.
Conclusions: The results showed that alcohol-attributable mortality in Korea became socioeconomically polarized during the economic crisis. The serious impact of economic polarization following the economic crisis might have been transmitted to alcohol-attributable mortality.