Socio-economic Differentials in Male Mortality in Ireland 1984-2008

Richard Layte, Anne Nolan


The presence of pronounced inequalities in mortality and life expectancy across income, education and social groups has long been a “stylized fact” of demography. Research across a large number of developed and wealthy countries, including Ireland, has shown that those with fewer resources, less education or a lower occupational class have higher standardised mortality rates (SMRs) than more advantaged individuals. The last analysis of Irish adult mortality differentials across social classes, carried out by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) and based on data for 2006, found that men in the unskilled manual social class had an SMR that was 1.8 times higher than males in the professional social class. However, little is known about how socio-economic inequalities in mortality in Ireland have changed since the mid-1990s, a period characterised by an unprecedented boom and bust in economic activity. In addition, previous analyses have made no attempt to adjust the SMRs to take account of those reporting missing or “unknown” occupation/socio-economic group (SEG). Using annual mortality data from the CSO over the period 1984-2008, a period of economic recovery and boom, this paper examineswhether the general downward trend in mortality observed over this period was experienced equally by all SEGs. We find that the SMR for all groups fell between the 1980s and 2000s but that the extent of this fall was largest for Employer and Manager and Professional SEGs leading to a growing differential between these groups and all others.


male mortality; Ireland

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