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BACKGROUND AND METHODS
Socioeconomic inequalities in premature mortality in Britain increased over the second half of the 20th century, particularly from the early 1970s onwards.1 The magnitude of mortality differentials reflects the trend in income inequality, which has also undergone a dramatic increase over the past quarter century.1 The present British government have emphasised their commitment to reducing health inequalities. For example the Minister of Health, Alan Milburn, has stated that “Our ambition is to do something that no government—Tory or Labour—has ever done. Not only to improve the health of the nation, but also to improve the health of the worst off at a faster rate”.2 A set of targets for the reduction of health inequalities has been presented. To monitor progress in this regard we have produced updated analyses of premature mortality rates running through to the end of 1999. The mortality data are the Office for National Statistics digital records of all deaths in England and Wales, and equivalent records from the General Register Office (Scotland). The full postcode of the usual residence of the deceased was used to assign each death to the parliamentary constituency in which the deceased usually lived. The death data were provided for single years since 1990 and have been grouped into two year …
Funding: RM is funded by the Chief Scientist Office of The Scottish Executive Health Department (SEHD) and the Health Education Board for Scotland (HEBS). The opinions expressed in this paper are those of the author(s) not of SEHD or HEBS. MS is funded by ESRC Fellowship R000271045.
Conflicts of interest: none.