How Are Causes of Death Shaping the Differences in Population Health Inequality between the United States and Sweden?

Claudia L. Nau, Pennsylvania State University
Glenn Firebaugh, Pennsylvania State University

This paper investigates the cause-specific underpinnings of differences in population health inequality between the United States and Sweden. Population health inequality is conceptualized as population heterogeneity in the age at death and is measured as the spread of the mortality age distribution. We use a decomposition technique to derive measures that quantify the degree to which the inequality difference between these two countries is due to specific causes having a higher spread in their patterns, different average timings of death and higher levels of mortality. We show which causes are the main contributors to international differences in inequality and through which mechanisms they do so. Cross-country differences in these features of cause-specific mortality are likely to be reflective of, and might inform us on, national idiosyncrasies in the distribution of risk factors. Since susceptibility to specific causes and risk exposure vary by sex, the decomposition is partitioned by sex.

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Presented in Session 169: Comparative Mortality Experiences