Trends in educational inequalities in cause specific mortality in Norway from 1960 to 2010: a turning point for educational inequalities in cause specific mortality of Norwegian men after the millennium?

BMC Public Health. 2014 Nov 24:14:1208. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-14-1208.


Background: Educational inequalities in total mortality in Norway have widened during 1960-2000. We wanted to investigate if inequalities have continued to increase in the post millennium decade, and which causes of deaths were the main drivers.

Methods: All deaths (total and cause specific) in the adult Norwegian population aged 45-74 years over five decades, until 2010 were included; in all 708,449 deaths and over 62 million person years. Two indices of inequalities were used to measure inequality and changes in inequalities over time, on the relative scale (Relative Index of Inequality, RII) and on the absolute scale (Slope Index of Inequality, SII).

Results: Relative inequalities in total mortality increased over the five decades in both genders. Among men absolute inequalities stabilized during 2000-2010, after steady, significant increases each decade back to the 1960s, while in women, absolute inequalities continued to increase significantly during the last decade. The stabilization in absolute inequalities among men in the last decade was mostly due to a fall in inequalities in cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality and lung cancer and respiratory disease mortality. Still, in this last decade, the absolute inequalities in cause-specific mortality among men were mostly due to cardiovascular diseases (CVD) (34% of total mortality inequality), lung cancer and respiratory diseases (21%). Among women the absolute inequalities in mortality were mostly due to lung cancer and chronic lower respiratory tract diseases (30%) and CVD (27%).

Conclusions: In men, absolute inequalities in mortality have stopped increasing, seemingly due to reduction in inequalities in CVD mortality. Absolute inequality in mortality continues to widen among women, mostly due to death from lung cancer and chronic lung disease. Relative educational inequalities in mortality are still on the rise for Norwegian men and women.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality*
  • Cause of Death / trends*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Healthcare Disparities / trends*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance
  • Sex Distribution
  • Socioeconomic Factors