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Soc Sci Med. 2013 Jun;87:93-8. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.03.029. Epub 2013 Apr 4.

The equalisation hypothesis and changes in geographical inequalities of age based mortality in England, 2002-2004 to 2008-2010.

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Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK.


The equalisation hypothesis argues that during adolescence and early adulthood, inequality in mortality declines and begins to even out. However the evidence for this phenomenon is contested and mainly based on old data. This study proposes to examine how age-specific inequalities in mortality rates have changed over the past decade, during a time of widening health inequalities. To test this, mortality rates were calculated for deprivation quintiles in England, split by individual ages and sex for three time periods (2002-2004, 2005-2007 and 2008-2010). The results showed evidence for equalisation, with a clear decline in the ratio of mortality rates during late adolescence. However this decline was not accounted for by traditional explanations of the hypothesis. Overall, geographical inequalities were shown to be widening for the majority of ages, although there was some narrowing of patterns observed.

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