Educational inequalities in hypothermia mortality in the Baltic countries and Finland in 2000–2015
European Journal of Public Health, 1–6 (2023)
Background. Despite an increased focus on cold-related mortality in recent years, there has been comparatively little research specifically on hypothermia mortality and its associated factors. Methods. Educational inequalities in hypothermia mortality among individuals aged 30–74 in the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) and Finland in 2000–15 were examined using data from longitudinal mortality follow-up studies of population censuses (the Baltics) and from a longitudinal register-based population data file (Finland). Results. Age-standardized mortality rates (ASMRs) were much higher in the Baltic countries than in Finland across the study period. From 2000–07 to 2008–15, overall ASMRs declined in all countries except among Finnish women. Although a strong educational gradient was observed in hypothermia mortality in all countries in 2000–07, inequalities were larger in the Baltic countries. Between 2000–07 and 2008–15, ASMRs declined in all educational groups except for high-educated women in Finland and low-educated women in Lithuania; the changes, however, were not always statistically significant. The absolute mortality decline was often larger among the low-educated resulting in narrowing absolute inequalities (excepting Lithuania), whereas a larger relative decline among the high-educated (excepting Finnish women) resulted in a considerable widening of relative inequalities in hypothermia mortality by 2008–15. Conclusion. Although some reduction was observed in absolute educational inequalities in hypothermia mortality in 2000–15, substantial and widening relative inequalities highlight the need for further action in combatting factors behind deaths from excessive cold in socioeconomically disadvantaged groups, including risky alcohol consumption and homelessness. Despite an increased focus on cold-related mortality in recent years, there has been comparatively little research specifically on hypothermia mortality and its associated factors.
Keywords: Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, adult mortality, differential mortality, education