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Eur J Public Health. 2007 Dec;17(6):585-6. Epub 2007 Apr 30.

Increasing social inequality in life expectancy in Denmark.

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  • 1National Institute of Public Health, Øster Farimagsgade 5A, 1399 Copenhagen, Denmark.



The purpose of the study was to determine trends in social inequality in mortality and life expectancy in Denmark.


The study was based on register data on educational level and mortality during the period 1981-2005 and comprised all deaths among Danes aged 30-60. Sex- and age-specific death rates for each of three levels of education were calculated and age-standardized to allow comparisons over time and between groups. As data obtained since 1996 included ages up to 74, partial life expectancy (i.e. expected lifetime of 30-year-olds before the age of 75) was calculated for the period 1996-2005.


Between 1981 and 2005, the difference in death rates between people aged 30-60 with low and high educational level increased by two-thirds for men and was doubled for women. During the period 1996-2005, the gap in partial life expectancy from age 30 to 75 between people with low and high educational level increased by 0.3 years.


During the past 25 years, the social gap in mortality has widened in Denmark. In particular, women with a low educational level have been left behind.

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