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Income and functional limitations among the aged in Europe: a trend analysis in 16 countries
  1. Olaf von dem Knesebeck,
  2. Nico Vonneilich,
  3. Daniel Lüdecke
  1. Department of Medical Sociology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Professor Olaf von dem Knesebeck, Department of Medical Sociology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistr. 52, Hamburg, D-20246, Germany; o.knesebeck{at}uke.de

Abstract

Background Analyses are focused on 3 research questions: (1) Are there absolute and relative income-related inequalities in functional limitations among the aged in Europe? (2) Did the absolute and relative income-related inequalities in functional limitations among the aged change between 2002 and 2014? (3) Are there differences in the changes of income-related inequalities between European countries?

Methods Data stem from 7 waves (2002–2014) of the European Social Survey. Samples of people aged 60 years or older from 16 European countries were analysed (N=63 024). Inequalities were measured by means of absolute prevalence rate differences and relative prevalence rate ratios of low versus high income. Meta-analyses with random-effect models were used to study the trends of inequalities in functional limitations over time.

Results Functional limitations among people aged 60 years or older declined between 2002 and 2014 in most of the 16 European countries. Older people with a low income had higher rates of functional limitations and elevated rate ratios compared with people with high income. These inequalities were significant in many countries and were more pronounced among men than among women. Overall, absolute and relative income-related inequalities increased between 2002 and 2014, especially in Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Conclusions High-income groups are more in favour of the observed overall decline in functional limitations than deprived groups. Results point to potential income-related inequalities in compression of morbidity in the recent past in Europe.

  • ELDERLY
  • Functioning and disability
  • Health inequalities

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Footnotes

  • Twitter Follow Daniel Lüdecke @strengejacke

  • Contributors DL and OvdK conducted the data analyses; all authors contributed to the interpretation of the data. OvdK drafted the manuscript. All authors revised, read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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