Volume 26 - Article 19 | Pages 489–510

Changes in educational differentials in old-age mortality in Finland and Sweden between 1971-1975 and 1996-2000

By Virginia Zarulli, Domantas Jasilionis, Dmitri Jdanov

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Date received:15 Aug 2011
Date published:30 May 2012
Word count:4724
Keywords:differential mortality, education, Finland, inequality measures, life span disparity, old age mortality, Sweden


Background: The majority of the studies on developed countries confirm that socioeconomic mortality inequalities have been persisting or even widening. It has also been suggested that inequalities have been becoming increasingly important for old ages.

Objective: In this study we systematically assess the direction and magnitude of changes in mortality differences at old ages in Sweden and Finland over the period 1971 to 2000.

Methods: The vast majority of the findings on mortality differentials rely on life table or aggregated mortality measures. However, conventional mean lifespan (life expectancy) hides important characteristics of the distribution of lifespan. Modal age at death and measures of disparity provide additional important insights on longevity, especially when focusing on mortality and survival at old ages. In this paper we use high quality census-linked data and both conventional life expectancy and distribution of life span measures.

Results: We found that the educational gap in life expectancy at age 65 and the total amount of mortality inequality by education, as reflected by average inter-group difference, increased in both countries. With the exception of Swedish females, the corresponding gap in modal age at death decreased.

Conclusions: Although the results suggest that the life expectancy gap is largely explained by differential mortality due to cardiovascular system diseases, the role of other causes of death (especially cancers) has also increased.

Author's Affiliation

Virginia Zarulli - Syddansk Universitet, Denmark [Email]
Domantas Jasilionis - Max-Planck-Institut für Demografische Forschung, Germany [Email]
Dmitri Jdanov - Max-Planck-Institut für Demografische Forschung, Germany [Email]

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