Socioeconomic differences in mortality among 27 million economically active Germans: a cross-sectional analysis of the German Pension Fund data.
ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVES:To assess disparities in mortality by socioeconomic status in Germany. DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS:We analyse a large administrative dataset of the German Pension Fund (DRV), including 27?million person-years of exposure and 42 000 deaths in 2013. The data cover the economically active population, stratified by sex and by East and West. OUTCOME MEASURES:Age-standardised mortality rates and Poisson regression mortality rate ratios (MRRs). RESULTS:The risk of dying increases with decreasing income: the MRRs of the lowest to the highest income quintile are 4.66 (95% CI 4.48 to 4.85) among men and 3.06 (95% CI 2.90 to 3.23) among women. The impact of income attenuates after controlling for education and other explanatory variables, especially for females. In the fully controlled model for females, individual income is a weaker predictor of mortality, but there is a clear educational mortality gradient. In the fully controlled model, the MRRs of the unemployed to the employed are 2.09 (95% CI 2.03 to 2.15) among men and 2.01 (95% CI 1.92 to 2.10) among women. The risk of dying is around half as high among foreigners as among German citizens. The socioeconomic disparities are greater among East than West German men. CONCLUSIONS:Low socioeconomic status is a major determinant of excess adult mortality in Germany. The persisting East-West differences in male adult mortality can be explained by the higher socioeconomic status of men living in the West, rather than by contextual differences between East and West. These differences can be further monitored using DRV data.
Project description:Before 1990, Germany was divided for more than 40 years. While divided, significant mortality disparities between the populations of East and West Germany emerged. In the years following reunification, East German mortality improved considerably, eventually converging with West German levels. In this study, we explore changes in the gender differences in health at ages 20-59 across the eastern and western regions of Germany using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) for the 1990-2013 period. We apply random-effects linear regressions to the SOEP data to identify trends in health, measured as self-assessed health satisfaction, after German reunification. The findings indicate that women were substantially less satisfied with their health than men in both West and East Germany, but that the gender gap was larger in East Germany than in West Germany. Furthermore, the results show that respondents' satisfaction with their health decreased over time, and that the decline was steeper among men - and particularly among East German men - than among women. Thus, the initial male advantage in health in East and West Germany in the years immediately after reunification diminished over time, and even reversed to become a female advantage in East Germany. One interpretation of this finding is that stress-inducing post-reunification changes in the political and social landscape of East Germany had lasting damaging consequences for men's health. Ongoing risky health behaviors and high levels of economic insecurity due to unemployment could have had long-lasting effects on the health of the working-aged population. A partial explanation for our finding that health declined more sharply among East German men than among their female counterparts could be that women have better compensatory mechanisms than men for dealing with psychosocial stress.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Subnational regional mortality inequalities are large and appear to be mostly increasing within industrialized countries, although comparative studies across high-income countries are scarce. Germany is an important country to examine because it continues to experience considerable economic disparities between its federal states, in part resulting from its former division. METHODS:We analyse state-level mortality in Germany utilizing data from a newly constructed regional database based on the methodology of the Human Mortality Database. We compare time trends (1991-2015) in the German state-level standard deviation in life expectancy to that of other large, wealthy countries and examine the association between mortality and economic inequalities at the regional level. Finally, using contour-decomposition methods, we investigate the degree to which age patterns of mortality are converging across German federal states. RESULTS:Regional inequalities in life expectancy in Germany are comparatively low internationally, particularly among women, despite high state-level inequalities in economic conditions. These low regional mortality inequalities emerged 5-10?years after reunification. Mortality is converging over most ages between the longest- and shortest-living German state populations and across the former East-West political border, with the exception of an emerging East-West divergence in mortality among working-aged men. CONCLUSIONS:The German example shows that large regional economic inequalities are not necessarily paralleled with large regional mortality disparities. Future research should investigate the factors that fostered the emergence of this unusual pattern in Germany.
Project description:Since unification in 1990, living conditions in Germany's "New Länder" have slowly converged to the conditions in the "Old Länder". One can assume, however, that West-East differences persist more strongly in remote rural areas neglected by economic development. Therefore, this paper aims to investigate and compare the living conditions of older adults in rural areas in East and West Germany with respect to personal and environmental resources which are important preconditions for autonomy and well-being in old age. These conditions were examined in a survey conducted in urban and rural regions of five European countries in 2000. The German rural study was carried out in the districts of Jerichow (Saxony-Anhalt) and Vogelsberg (Hesse), and included 762 men and women aged 55 years or older, randomly chosen in villages of at most 5,000 inhabitants. East-West comparison showed both similarities and differences. Similarities arose in human conditions such as subjective health, parenthood and network variety, and in environmental conditions such as home-ownership, attachment to one's home, length of residence in the same neighbourhood, and satisfaction with mobility options. Differences were found in socio-demographic conditions (e.g. education, income, household composition), basic neighbourhood features, and patterns of social and leisure activities. Regression analysis showed the differing impact of single predictor variables on life satisfaction in the East and West: satisfaction with financial situation and functional health contributes far more to older people's life satisfaction in the West German rural area, whereas mobility-related aspects affect elders' life satisfaction more strongly in the East German countryside. The findings reflect, on the one hand, continuing structural East-West differences and, on the other, diverging socio-cultural habits.
Project description:Social isolation is associated with increased mortality. Meta-analytic results, however, indicate heterogeneity in effect sizes. We aimed to provide new evidence to the association between social isolation and mortality by conducting a population-based cohort study. We reconstructed the Berkman and Syme's social network index (SNI), which combines four components of social networks (partnership, interaction with family/friends, religious activities, and membership in organizations/clubs) into an index, ranging from 0/1 (most socially isolated) to 4 (least socially isolated). We estimated cumulative mortality and adjusted mortality rate ratios (MRR) associated with SNI. We adjusted for potential important confounders, including psychiatric and somatic status, lifestyle, and socioeconomic status. Cumulative 7-year mortality in men was 11% for SNI 0/1 and 5.4% for SNI 4 and in women 9.6% for SNI 0/1 and 3.9% for SNI 4. Adjusted MRRs comparing SNI 0/1 with SNI 4 were 1.7 (95% CI: 1.1-2.6) among men and 1.6 (95% CI: 0.83-2.9) among women. Having no partner was associated with an adjusted MRR of 1.5 (95% CI: 1.2-2.1) for men and 1.7 (95% CI: 1.2-2.4) for women. In conclusion, social isolation was associated with 60-70% increased mortality. Having no partner was associated with highest MRR.
Project description:Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, mortality was considerably higher in the former East Germany than in West Germany. The gap narrowed rapidly after German reunification. The convergence was particularly strong for women, to the point that Eastern women aged 50-69 now have lower mortality despite lower incomes and worse overall living conditions. Prior research has shown that lower smoking rates among East German female cohorts born in the 1940s and 1950s were a major contributor to this crossover. However, after 1990, smoking behavior changed dramatically, with higher smoking intensity observed among women in the eastern part of Germany. We forecast the impact of this changing smoking behavior on East-West mortality differences and find that the higher smoking rates among younger East German cohorts will reverse their contemporary mortality advantage. Mortality forecasting methods that do not account for smoking would, perhaps misleadingly, forecast a growing mortality advantage for East German women. Experience from other countries shows that smoking can be effectively reduced by strict anti-smoking policies. Instead, East Germany is becoming an example warning of the consequences of weakening anti-smoking policies and changing behavioral norms.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Due to substantial improvements in prevention and therapy, stroke incidence and mortality rates have decreased during the last decades, but evidence is still lacking on whether all socioeconomic groups benefited equally and how the length of life affected by stroke developed over time. Our study investigates time trends in stroke-free life years and life years affected by stroke. Special emphasis is given to the question whether trends differ between income groups, leading to decreasing or increasing social inequalities. METHODS:The analyses are based on claims data of a German statutory health insurance company of the two time periods 2006-2008 and 2014-2016. Income inequalities and time trends in incidence and mortality risks were estimated using multistate survival models. Trends in stroke-free life years and life years affected by stroke are analysed separately for income groups by applying multistate life table analyses. RESULTS:Stroke incidence and mortality risks decreased in men and women in all income groups. While stroke-free lifetime could be gained in men having higher incomes, improvements in mortality counterbalanced decreasing incidences, leading to increases in life years affected by stroke among men of the lower and higher income group. Among women, no significant changes in life years could be observed. CONCLUSIONS:Changes in stroke-affected life years occur among men in all income groups, but are more pronounced in the higher income group. However, irrespective of the income group the proportion of stroke-affected life years remains quite stable over time, pointing towards constant inequalities. Further research is needed on whether impairments due to stroke reduced over time and whether all socioeconomic groups are affected equally.
Project description:Socioeconomic inequalities in mortality can be explained by different groups of risk factors. However, little is known whether repeated measurement of risk factors can provide better explanation of socioeconomic inequalities in health. Our study examines the extent to which relative educational and income inequalities in mortality might be explained by explanatory risk factors (behavioral, psychosocial, biomedical risk factors and employment) measured at two points in time, as compared to one measurement at baseline.From the Norwegian total county population-based HUNT Study (years 1984-86 and 1995-1997, respectively) 61 513 men and women aged 25-80 (82.5% of all enrolled) were followed-up for mortality in 25 years until 2009, employing a discrete time survival analysis. Socioeconomic inequalities in mortality were observed. As compared to their highest socioeconomic counterparts, the lowest educated men had an OR (odds ratio) of 1.41 (95% CI 1.29-1.55) and for the lowest income quartile OR = 1.59 (1.48-1.571), for women OR = 1.35 (1.17-1.55), and OR = 1.40 (1.28-1.52), respectively. Baseline explanatory variables attenuated the association between education and income with mortality by 54% and 54% in men, respectively, and by 69% and 18% in women. After entering time-varying variables, this attainment increased to 63% and 59% in men, respectively, and to 25% (income) in women, with no improvement in regard to education in women. Change in biomedical factors and employment did not amend the explanation.Addition of a second measurement for risk factors provided only a modest improvement in explaining educational and income inequalities in mortality in Norwegian men and women. Accounting for change in behavior provided the largest improvement in explained inequalities in mortality for both men and women, as compared to measurement at baseline. Psychosocial factors explained the largest share of income inequalities in mortality for men, but repeated measurement of these factors contributed only to modest improvement in explanation. Further comparative research on the relative importance of explanatory pathways assessed over time is needed.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Socioeconomic disparities in infant mortality have persisted for decades in high-income countries and may have become stronger in some populations. Therefore, new understandings of the mechanisms that underlie socioeconomic differences in infant deaths are essential for creating and implementing health initiatives to reduce these deaths. We aimed to explore whether and the extent to which preterm birth (PTB) and small for gestational age (SGA) at birth mediate the association between maternal education and infant mortality. METHODS AND FINDINGS:We developed a population-based cohort study to include all 1,994,618 live singletons born in Denmark in 1981-2015. Infants were followed from birth until death, emigration, or the day before the first birthday, whichever came first. Maternal education at childbirth was categorized as low, medium, or high. An inverse probability weighting of marginal structural models was used to estimate the controlled direct effect (CDE) of maternal education on offspring infant mortality, further split into neonatal (0-27 days) and postneonatal (28-364 days) deaths, and portion eliminated (PE) by eliminating mediation by PTB and SGA. The proportion eliminated by eliminating mediation by PTB and SGA was reported if the mortality rate ratios (MRRs) of CDE and PE were in the same direction. The MRRs between maternal education and infant mortality were 1.63 (95% CI 1.48-1.80, P < 0.001) and 1.19 (95% CI 1.08-1.31, P < 0.001) for low and medium versus high education, respectively. The estimated proportions of these total associations eliminated by reducing PTB and SGA together were 55% (MRRPE = 1.27, 95% CI 1.15-1.40, P < 0.001) for low and 60% (MRRPE = 1.11, 95% CI 1.01-1.22, P = 0.037) for medium versus high education. The proportions eliminated by eliminating PTB and SGA separately were, respectively, 46% and 11% for low education (versus high education) and 48% and 13% for medium education (versus high education). PTB and SGA together contributed more to the association of maternal educational disparities with neonatal mortality (proportion eliminated: 75%-81%) than with postneonatal mortality (proportion eliminated: 21%-23%). Limitations of the study include the untestable assumption of no unmeasured confounders for the causal mediation analysis, and the limited generalizability of the findings to other countries with varying disparities in access and quality of perinatal healthcare. CONCLUSIONS:PTB and SGA may play substantial roles in the relationship between low maternal education and infant mortality, especially for neonatal mortality. The mediating role of PTB appeared to be much stronger than that of SGA. Public health strategies aimed at reducing neonatal mortality in high-income countries may need to address socially related prenatal risk factors of PTB and impaired fetal growth. The substantial association of maternal education with postneonatal mortality not accounted for by PTB or SGA could reflect unaddressed educational disparities in infant care or other factors.
Project description:To assess age, period, and birth cohort effects and patterns of obesity-attributable mortality in Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, and the UK (UK).We obtained obesity prevalence and all-cause mortality data by age (20-79), sex and country for 1990-2012. We applied Clayton and Schifflers' age-period-cohort approach to obesity-attributable mortality rates (OAMRs).Between 1990 and 2012, obesity prevalence increased and age-standardised OAMRs declined, although not uniformly. The nonlinear birth cohort effects contributed significantly (p?<?0.01) to obesity-attributable mortality trends in all populations, except in Czech Republic, Finland, and among German women, and Polish men. Their contribution was greater than 25% in UK and among French women, and larger than that of the nonlinear period effects. In the UK, mortality rate ratios (MRRs) increased among the cohorts born after 1950. In other populations with significant birth cohort effects, MRRs increased among the 1935-1960 cohorts and decreased thereafter.Given its potential effects on obesity-attributable mortality, the cohort dimension should not be ignored and calls for interventions early in life next to actions targeting broader societal changes.
Project description:This study aimed to examine differences in all-cause mortality and main causes of death across different migrant and local-born populations living in six European countries. We used data from population and mortality registers from Denmark, England & Wales, France, Netherlands, Scotland, and Spain. We calculated age-standardized mortality rates for men and women aged 0-69 years. Country-specific data were pooled to assess weighted mortality rate ratios (MRRs) using Poisson regression. Analyses were stratified by age group, country of destination, and main cause of death. In six countries combined, all-cause mortality was lower for men and women from East Asia (MRRs 0.66; 95 % confidence interval 0.62-0.71 and 0.76; 0.69-0.82, respectively), and Other Latin America (0.44; 0.42-0.46 and 0.56; 0.54-0.59, respectively) than local-born populations. Mortality rates were similar for those from Turkey. All-cause mortality was higher in men and women from North Africa (1.09; 1.08-1.11 and 1.19; 1.17-1.22, respectively) and Eastern Europe (1.30; 1.27-1.33 and 1.05; 1.01-1.08, respectively), and women from Sub-Saharan Africa (1.34; 1.30-1.38). The pattern differed by age group and country of destination. Most migrants had higher mortality due to infectious diseases and homicide while cancer mortality and suicide were lower. CVD mortality differed by migrant population. To conclude, mortality patterns varied across migrant populations in European countries. Future research should focus both on migrant populations with favourable and less favourable mortality pattern, in order to understand this heterogeneity and to drive policy at the European level.