Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Trends in socioeconomic health inequalities in Korea: use of mortality and morbidity measures
  1. Y H Khang1,
  2. J W Lynch2,
  3. S Yun3,
  4. S I Lee1
  1. 1Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Korea
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, USA
  3. 3Department of Statistics, Seoul National University, Korea
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Y H Khang
 Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, 388-1 Pungnap-2dong Songpa-gu Seoul, Korea 138-736;


Study objective: To examine trends in educational mortality and morbidity inequalities in Korea.

Design: Census data (1990, 1995, 2000) and death certificate data (1990–91, 1995–96, 2000–01) were used for mortality. For morbidity, four waves (1989, 1992, 1995, and 1999) of Social Statistics Survey from Korea’s National Statistical Office were used. Morbidity indicators were self rated health and self reported illness in the past two weeks. Trends were studied using indices for both the relative and absolute size of socioeconomic inequalities in health.

Setting: South Korea.

Patients (or Participants): Representative annual samples of the adult population aged 30–59 in Korea.

Main results: Based on trends in relative index of inequalities, the relative level of socioeconomic mortality inequality remained virtually unchanged in men and women in the past 10 years. Meanwhile, inequalities in self rated health have increased over time in both sexes. Most of the total increase in health inequalities happened between 1995 and 1999. Inequalities in self reported acute illness increased in the past 10 years.

Conclusions: The rise in inequalities in morbidity requires increased social discourse and policy discussions about health inequalities in Korean society.

  • inequality
  • morbidity
  • mortality
  • socioeconomic factors

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: financial support for this study was provided by the Asan Research Institute for Society and Medicine, Seoul, Korea.

  • Conflicts of interest: none declared