Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Country of birth, socioeconomic position, and healthcare expenditure: a multilevel analysis of Malmö, Sweden
  1. A Beckman1,
  2. J Merlo1,
  3. J W Lynch2,
  4. U-G Gerdtham1,
  5. M Lindström1,
  6. T Lithman3
  1. 1Department of Community Medicine, Malmö University Hospital, Lund University, Malmö, Sweden
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA
  3. 3Regional Office, Skåne County Council, Lund, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr J Merlo
 Department of Community Medicine, Malmö University Hospital, S-205 02 Malmö, Sweden;


Study objective: The principle of equity aims to guarantee allocation of healthcare resources on the basis of need. Therefore, people with a low income and persons living alone are expected to have higher healthcare expenditures. Besides these individual characteristics healthcare expenditure may be influenced by country of birth. This study therefore aimed to investigate the role of country of birth in explaining individual healthcare expenditure.

Design: Multilevel regression model based on individuals (first level) and their country of birth (second level).

Setting: The city of Malmö, Sweden.

Participants: All the 52 419 men aged 40–80 years from 130 different countries of birth, who were living in Malmö, Sweden, during 1999.

Main results: At the individual level, persons with a low income and persons living alone showed a higher healthcare expenditure, with regression coefficients (and 95% confidence intervals) being 0.358 (0.325 to 0.392) and 0.197 (0.165 to 0.230), respectively. Country of birth explained a considerable part (18% and 13%) of the individual differences in the probability of having a low income and living alone, respectively. However, this figure was only 3% for having some health expenditure, and barely 0.7% with regard to costs in the 74% of the population with some health expenditure.

Conclusions: Malmö is a socioeconomically segregated city, in which the country of birth seems to play only a minor part in explaining individual differences in total healthcare expenditure. These differences seem instead to be determined by individual low income and living alone.

  • healthcare utilisation
  • ethnicity
  • multilevel analysis

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Funding: This study was supported by the Skåne County Council.

  • Conflicts of interest: none declared.

Linked Articles