Why are socioeconomic mortality differences smaller among women than among men?

Soc Sci Med. 1994 May;38(10):1385-96. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(94)90276-3.


This study examines whether women's socioeconomic mortality differences appear to be smaller than those of men because of: (1) the choice of indicator used in measuring socioeconomic position; (2) the confounding influence of other sociodemographic variables, either masking women's inequities or accentuating them among men; or (3) differences in the cause of death structure between women and men. The data set is based on individual records of the 1980 census linked with death records for the period 1981-85 in the 35-64-year old population in Finland. According to each of the socioeconomic indicators applied in this study (level of education, occupational class, housing density and standard of equipment of the dwelling) the relative magnitude of inequalities among women is considerably smaller than among men. This result arises totally from the married subpopulation--in other marital status groups women's inequalities are at least as large as men's. In most causes of death the socioeconomic mortality gradient is as steep or even steeper among women in comparison with men. When the cause of death structure of men is applied to the cause-specific mortality differences of women, the socioeconomic gradient in total mortality is almost similar among both genders even in the married population.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bias
  • Cause of Death
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Death Certificates*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Medical Record Linkage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Occupations
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Women's Health*
  • Women's Rights