Widening socioeconomic mortality gradient in Germany and its implication for the closing East-West mortality gap

Eva U.B. Kibele, University of Groningen
Domantas Jasilionis, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Vladimir M. Shkolnikov, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and New Economic School, Russia

Widening socioeconomic mortality gradients have been found in many European countries, ranging from supposedly egalitarian countries in Northern Europe to the Eastern European countries which have undergone great societal changes in the past few decades. This study seeks to find out how the socioeconomic mortality gradient developed among the elderly in Germany. In particular, the socioeconomic mortality gradients in eastern and western Germany and their trends are studied in order to see whether and how the differential mortality trends in population groups contributed to the closing East-West mortality gap in Germany. Mortality trends of the male population aged 65+ years in Germany over the years 1995-96 to 2007-08 are studied using data of the German Federal Pension Fund that cover over 80% of the retired German population. Former occupation and pension income are used as an indicator of socioeconomic status. The results reveal that the mortality risk is higher among people with a lower SES compared to lower mortality of people with higher SES. This difference has increased between 1995-96 and 2007-08, showing a widening of the old-age mortality gradient. Pronounced mortality reductions in the population with high socioeconomic status in eastern Germany greatly contributed to the mortality decrease in eastern Germany, and hence to the life expectancy convergence between the eastern and the western part of Germany.

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Presented in Session 34: Socioeconomic status and health/mortality