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Chronic Dis Inj Can. 2013 Sep;33(4):195-203.

Cause-specific mortality by occupational skill level in Canada: a 16-year follow-up study.

[Article in English, French; Abstract available in French from the publisher]

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Health Analysis Division, Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


in English, French


Mortality data by occupation are not routinely available in Canada, so we analyzed census-linked data to examine cause-specific mortality rates across groups of occupations ranked by skill level.


A 15% sample of 1991 Canadian Census respondents aged 25 years or older was previously linked to 16 years of mortality data (1991-2006). The current analysis is based on 2.3 million people aged 25 to 64 years at cohort inception, among whom there were 164 332 deaths during the follow-up period. Occupations coded according to the National Occupation Classification were grouped into five skill levels. Age-standardized mortality rates (ASMRs), rate ratios (RRs), rate differences (RDs) and excess mortality were calculated by occupational skill level for various causes of death.


ASMRs were clearly graded by skill level: they were highest among those employed in unskilled jobs (and those without an occupation) and lowest for those in professional occupations. All-cause RRs for men were 1.16, 1.40, 1.63 and 1.83 with decreasing occupational skill level compared with professionals. For women the gradient was less steep: 1.23, 1.24, 1.32 and 1.53. This gradient was present for most causes of death. Rate ratios comparing lowest to highest skill levels were greater than 2 for HIV/AIDS, diabetes mellitus, suicide and cancer of the cervix as well as for causes of death associated with tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption.


Mortality gradients by occupational skill level were evident for most causes of death. These results provide detailed cause-specific baseline indicators not previously available for Canada.


Canada; differential mortality; occupational skill level; socio-economic status

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