Educational inequalities in mortality by cause of death: First national data for the Netherlands

Objectives: Using new facilities for linking large databases, we aimed to evaluate for the first time the magnitude of relative and absolute educational inequalities in mortality by sex and cause of death in the Netherlands.
Methods: We analyzed data from Dutch Labour Force Surveys (1998–2002) with mortality follow-up 1998–2007 among people aged 30–79 years. We calculated hazard ratios using Cox proportional hazards model, age-standardized mortality rates and partial life expectancy by education. We compared results for the Netherlands with those for other European countries.
Results: The relative risk of dying was about two times higher among primary educated men and women as compared to their tertiary educated counterparts, leading to a gap in partial life expectancy of 3.4 years (men) and 2.4 years (women). Inequalities in mortality are similar to those in other countries in North-Western Europe, but inequalities in lung cancer mortality are substantially larger in the Netherlands, particularly among men.
Conclusions: The Netherlands has large inequalities in mortality, especially for smoking-related causes of death. These large inequalities require the urgent attention of policy makers.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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