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Socioeconomic, remoteness and sex differences in life expectancy in New South Wales, Australia, 2001-2012: a population-based study

10 Jan 2017

Objectives

Despite being one of the healthiest countries in the world, Australia displays substantial mortality differentials by socioeconomic disadvantage, remoteness and sex. In this study, we examined how these mortality differentials translated to differences in life expectancy between 2001 and 2012.

Design and setting

Population-based study using mortality and estimated residential population data from Australia's largest state, New South Wales (NSW), between 2001 and 2012. Age-group-specific death rates by socioeconomic disadvantage quintile, remoteness (major cities vs regional and remote areas), sex and year were estimated via Poisson regression, and inputted into life table calculations to estimate life expectancy.

Results

Life expectancy decreased with increasing socioeconomic disadvantage in males and females. The disparity between the most and least socioeconomically deprived quintiles was 3.77 years in males and 2.39 years in females in 2012. Differences in life expectancy by socioeconomic disadvantage were mostly stable over time. Gender gaps in life expectancy ranged from 3.50 to 4.93 years (in 2012), increased with increasing socioeconomic disadvantage and decreased by ~1 year for all quintiles between 2001 and 2012. Overall, life expectancy varied little by remoteness, but was 1.8 years higher in major cities compared to regional/remote areas in the most socioeconomically deprived regions in 2012.

Conclusions

Socioeconomic disadvantage and sex were strongly associated with life expectancy. The disparity in life expectancy across the socioeconomic spectrum was larger in males and was stable over time. In contrast, gender gaps reduced for all quintiles between 2001 and 2012, and a remoteness effect was evident in 2012, but only for those living in the most deprived areas.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open