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Has the economic crisis widened the intraurban socioeconomic inequalities in mortality? The case of Barcelona, Spain
  1. Laia Maynou1,2,3,
  2. Marc Saez1,2,4,
  3. Guillem Lopez-Casasnovas4,5
  1. 1Research Group on Statistics, Econometrics and Health (GRECS), University of Girona, Girona, Spain
  2. 2CIBER of Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP), Madrid, Spain
  3. 3London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  4. 4Center for Research in Health and Economics (CRES), Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
  5. 5Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Professor Marc Saez, Research Group on Statistics, Econometrics and Health (GRECS), University of Girona, Campus de Montilivi, Girona 17071, Spain; marc.saez{at}


Background There is considerable evidence demonstrating socioeconomic inequalities in mortality, some of which focuses on intraurban inequalities. However, all the studies assume that the spatial variation of inequalities is stable over the time. We challenge this assumption and propose two hypotheses: (i) have spatial variations in socioeconomic inequalities in mortality at an intraurban level changed over time? and (ii) as a result of the economic crisis, has the gap between such disparities widened? In this paper, our objective is to assess the effect of the economic recession on the spatio-temporal variation of socioeconomic inequalities in mortality in Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain).

Methods We used a spatio-temporal ecological design to analyse mortality inequalities at small area level in Barcelona. Mortality data and socioeconomic indicators correspond to the years 2005 and 2008–2011. We specified spatio-temporal ecological mixed regressions for both men and women using two indicators, neighbourhood and year. We allowed the coefficients of the socioeconomic variables to differ according to the levels and explicitly took into account spatio-temporal adjustment.

Results For men and women both absolute and, above all, relative risks for mortality have increased since 2009. In relative terms, this means that the risk of dying has increased much more in the most economically deprived neighbourhoods than in the more affluent ones.

Conclusions Although the geographical pattern in relative risks for mortality in neighbourhoods in Barcelona remained very stable between 2005 and 2011, socioeconomic inequalities in mortality at an intraurban level have surged since 2009.

  • Health inequalities

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