Study Looks at Relationship Between Mortality Disparities and Overall Population Health
"The Fall and Rise of U.S. Inequities in Premature Mortality: 1960-2002": The study examines whether relative and absolute differences in mortality between socioeconomic groups and between whites and nonwhites widen or narrow when overall population health improves. Researchers examined annual U.S. mortality data for premature mortality, defined as dying before the age of 65, and infant mortality between 1960 and 2002 for the total population and by race/ethnicity. The study found that premature mortality and infant mortality decreased for all income groups from 1960-2002 but that disparities between income groups and between whites and other racial/ethnic groups varied over the study period. According to the study, while economic disparities lessened between 1966 and 1980, after 1980 the relative health inequities grew and the absolute differences did not change. The researchers, who write that the narrowing and widening of disparities over time is related to respective increases and decreases in social program funding, concluded that if all people in the U.S. population experienced the same health gains as the most advantaged did during the study period, 14% of premature deaths among whites and 30% of premature deaths among other racial/ethnic groups would have been prevented (Krieger et al., PLoS Medicine, February 2008).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.