Trends in mortality inequalities among the adult household population

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Emma Marshall-Catlin, Tracey Bushnik and Michael Tjepkema
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Abstract

Background: The routine measurement of population health status indicators like mortality is important to assess progress in the reduction of inequalities. Previous studies of mortality inequalities have relied on area-based measures of socioeconomic indicators. A new series of census-mortality linked datasets has been created in Canada to quantify mortality inequalities based on individual-level data and examine whether these inequalities have changed over time.Methods: This study used the 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006, and 2011 Canadian Census Health and Environment Cohorts (CanCHECs) with five years of mortality follow-up. It estimated age-standardized mortality rates by sex according to income quintile and highest level of educational attainment categories for the household population aged 25 or older. Absolute and relative measures of mortality inequality were also estimated.Results: Men had a greater reduction in mortality rates over time compared with women, regardless of income or education level. Absolute income-related mortality inequality decreased for men but increased for women over time, while relative income-related inequality increased for both sexes. Education-related mortality inequality for women followed the same pattern as income, though the absolute mortality difference for men remained roughly unchanged over the period.Interpretation: Mortality inequalities by income and education persist in Canada, and have increased for women. Further research to determine the mechanisms underlying these trends could help address the complex challenge of reducing health inequalities in Canada

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