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Mortality highest among unemployed people and people in poverty
It has long been known that the income situation can have an impact on health. A recent study has now shown how strongly mortality in Germany depends on education, income and employment status. For the first time, researchers at the Max Planck Institute have reliably calculated the impact of these factors on the risk of death.
According to the new study results, the risk of death in unemployment, for example, doubles. The research team at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) analyzed the impact of education, income or employment status on mortality as part of the current study. The study results were published in the specialist magazine "BMJ open".
Data from 27 million insured persons evaluated
The current study was based on data from around 27 million insured persons from the German Pension Insurance. "For the first time, we are on a secure database when we evaluate the individual factors and their impact on mortality in Germany," Pavel Grigoriev emphasized in a press release from the MPIDR on the study results. So far, similar studies for Germany have only worked with much smaller data sets.
Risk of death as a comparable indicator?
In order to make the risk of death comparable, the researchers calculated the influence of age so that, for example, "it did not matter that unemployed people are on average older than people with a job and therefore die more often," reports the MPIDR. The age structure of all population groups had been statistically adjusted so that they all had the same composition. The observed differences in mortality are therefore only due to the remaining factors such as unemployment or income.
Doubled risk of death from unemployment
The data analysis made it clear that the risk of death doubled in the event of unemployment. An even greater impact came from low incomes - especially for men. For them, the mortality rate in the group with the lowest income was 150 percent higher than in the group with the highest income. The influence of education, however, seems less relevant. The researchers report that poorer education only has a 30 percent risk of death for men.
Serious influence of socio-economic status
The influence of socioeconomic status (especially income, work status and education) on mortality is particularly evident in the most disadvantaged group of men in the east, where 14 percent belong to the lowest income and education strata. "This group has more than eight times the risk of death compared to the highest income and educational strata," explains the research team.
This group of the most disadvantaged men is smaller in western Germany (eleven percent of the population) and is less likely to die (five times higher than in the richest income bracket), the researchers report. The differences between women, especially in terms of income, are less pronounced , while unemployment and education had a similarly strong impact to that of men.
Hardly any regional difference
The place of residence - despite the differences between men in East and West Germany - has only a minor influence on the risk of death. If the influence “of unemployment, education, income and nationality is excluded”, the difference disappears. The increased risk of death is primarily due to the fact that there is a higher proportion of unemployed, less educated and people with lower incomes in the East. These factors increase mortality. "Other factors in East and West, such as medical infrastructure, seem to play a negligible role," summarizes the research team. (fp)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters
- Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR): Highest risk of death for poor and unemployed (published October 8, 2019), MPIDR
- Pavel Grigoriev, Rembrandt Scholz, Vladimir M. Shkolnikov: Socioeconomic differences in mortality among 27 million economically active Germans: a cross-sectional analysis of the German Pension Fund data; in: BMJ open; Volume 9, Issue 10, 2019, bmjopen.bmj.com