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Socioeconomic factors and mortality in urban settings: the case of Barcelona, Spain.
  1. C Borrell,
  2. A Arias
  1. Municipal Institute of Health, Barcelona, Spain.


    STUDY OBJECTIVE--This study aimed to describe the relationship between health and socioeconomic indicators in the 38 neighbourhoods of the city of Barcelona, Spain. DESIGN--Mortality data for 1983-89 and socioeconomic data for each of the 38 neighbourhoods of Barcelona were used. Mortality indicators used were the comparative mortality figure, the ratio of potential years of life lost, and life expectancy at birth. Socioeconomic indicators were the percentage of unemployed, the percentage of illiteracy, monthly telephone usage, the average power and age of cars, and the average rateable value of buildings and of land. The statistical correlation between socioeconomic indicators and mortality indicators was studied by Spearman's rank correlation coefficient. SETTING--The 38 neighbourhoods of Barcelona, Spain. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS--The comparative mortality figure ranged from 87.41-152.43 and the ratio of potential years of life lost from 74.94-237.31 in both sexes. Both the absolute difference and the ratio of the value for the neighbourhood with lowest mortality and that with highest mortality were larger when premature mortality was examined. Life expectancy at birth ranged from 64.77-75.32 years in men and 75.04-81.51 in women. All correlations between mortality and socioeconomic indicators were high and statistically significant: the higher the unemployment and illiteracy levels and the older the cars, the greater the comparative mortality figure and ratio of potential years of life lost, and the lower the life expectancy (negative correlations). Conversely, the higher the telephone use, the more powerful the cars, and the greater the rateable value, the lower the mortality (negative correlations) and the greater the life expectancy. These correlations were greater in males than in females. The highest correlations were with illiteracy. CONCLUSIONS--This study has detected significant differences in mortality in a large town in the Mediterranean region of Europe.

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