Journal Article

Economic fluctuations and urban-rural differences in educational inequalities in mortality in the Baltic countries and Finland in 2000-2015: a register-based study

Leinsalu, M., Baburin, A., Jasilionis, D., Krumins, J., Martikainen, P., Stickley, A.
International Journal for Equity in Health, 19:223, 1–6 (2020)
Open Access


We examined urban-rural differences in educational inequalities in mortality in the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) and Finland in the context of macroeconomic changes. Educational inequalities among 30-74 year olds were examined in 2000-2003, 2004-2007, 2008-2011 and 2012-2015 using census-linked longitudinal mortality data. We estimated age-standardized mortality rates and the relative and slope index of inequality. Overall mortality rates were larger in rural areas except among Finnish women. Relative educational inequalities in mortality were often larger in urban areas among men but in rural areas among women. Absolute inequalities were mostly larger in rural areas excepting Finnish men. Between 2000-2003 and 2012-2015 relative inequalities increased in most countries while absolute inequalities decreased except in Lithuania. In the Baltic countries the changes in both relative and absolute inequalities tended to be more favorable in urban areas; in Finland they were more favorable in rural areas. The overall pattern changed during the reccessionary period from 2004-2007 to 2008-2011 when relative inequalities often diminished or the increase slowed, while the decrease in absolute inequalities accelerated with larger improvements observed in urban areas. Despite substantial progress in reducing overall mortality rates in both urban and rural areas in all countries, low educated men and women in rural areas in the Baltic countries are becoming increasingly disadvantaged in terms of mortality reduction.

Keywords: Baltic Countries, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, education, inequality, mortality, rural areas, urban areas
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