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Comparison of socio-economic indicators explaining inequalities in Healthy Life Years at age 50 in Europe: 2005 and 2010

Lookup NU author(s): Tony Fouweather, Dr Pia Wohland, Emerita Professor Carol Jagger


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Background: The first estimates of Healthy Life Years at age 50 (HLY50) across the EU25 countries in 2005 showed substantial variation in healthy ageing. We investigate whether factors contributing to HLY50 inequalities have changed between 2005 and 2010. Methods: HLY50 for each country and year were calculated using Sullivan's method, applying the age-specific prevalence of activity limitation from the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) survey to life tables. Inequalities in life expectancy at age 50 (LE50) and HLY50 between countries were defined as the difference between the maximum and minimum LE50 or HLY50. Relationships between HLY50 and macro-level socio-economic indicators were investigated using meta-regression. Men and women were analysed separately. Results: Between 2005 and 2010 HLY50 inequalities for both men and women in Europe increased. In 2005 and 2010 HLY50 inequalities exceeded LE50 inequalities, particularly in the established EU15 countries in 2010 where HLY50 inequalities (men: 10.7 years; women: 12.5 years) were four times greater for men and three times for women than LE50 inequalities (men: 2.4 years; women: 4.1 years). Only material deprivation significantly explained variation in EU25 HLY50 in both years with, additionally, long-term unemployment in 2010. Conclusions: Our results suggest that inequalities in HLY50 across Europe are large, increasing and partly explained by levels of material deprivation. Moreover long-term unemployment has become more influential in explaining variation in HLY50 between 2005 and 2010.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Fouweather T, Gillies C, Wohland P, Van Oyen H, Nusselder W, Robine JM, Cambois E, Jagger C, for the JA: EHLEIS Team

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Journal of Public Health

Year: 2015

Volume: 25

Issue: 6

Pages: 978-983

Print publication date: 01/12/2015

Online publication date: 14/04/2015

Acceptance date: 01/01/1900

ISSN (print): 1101-1262

ISSN (electronic): 1464-360X

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/eurpub/ckv070


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Funder referenceFunder name
CNSA (CNSA, National Solidarity Fund for the autonomy of the elderly and people with disabilities)
DREES (Directorate of research, studies, evaluation and statistics)
European Commission
DG SANCO 20102301