Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Increases in socioeconomic inequalities in mortality in Nordic countries: growing controversies between the changing welfare state and public health?
  1. Domantas Jasilionis1,2,3
  1. 1Laboratory of Demographic Data, Max-Planck-Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany
  2. 2Max Planck – University of Helsinki Center for Social Inequalities in Population Health, Helsinki, Finland
  3. 3Vytautas Kavolis Interdisciplinary Research Institute, Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania
  1. Correspondence to Dr Domantas Jasilionis, Max-Planck-Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany; jasilionis{at}

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.

More than 40 years after the Black Report, evidence about the dynamics and determinants of socioeconomic inequalities in mortality is quite inconclusive. Although some recent studies reported signs of positive changes, such as reductions in absolute inequalities in a few countries,1 international-specific and country-specific findings remain very sensitive to data specifics and measuring approaches. Surprisingly, even some Nordic countries having long histories of registers cannot provide complete data covering entire populations. For example, the official Danish and Swedish register-based data on mortality differences by education often exclude advanced ages (eg, those born before 1922 in Denmark or born before 1915 in Sweden) and cover only the native-born populations.2

Despite some specific limitations, Nordic studies still provide the most systematic and reliable evidence about temporal changes in socioeconomic inequalities in mortality. The study by Jensen and colleagues3 focusing on educational inequalities in mortality in the Danish population aged 30–74 years warns about a notable increase in absolute inequalities between 1995 and 2019. Another key finding of this study concerns the profound role of smoking-related and alcohol-related deaths explaining about 60% of the total educational gap in mortality and about 50% of the increase in inequality during the study period. …

View Full Text


  • Contributors DJ drafted the manuscript and contributed to the final version.

  • Funding DJ was supported by grants to the Max Planck—University of Helsinki Center from the Max Planck Society, Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki, and Cities of Helsinki, Vantaa and Espoo.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.