Equal in ashes? Exploring socioeconomic inequalities in lifespan based on obituary data in Austria

Mayer, SusanneORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4448-0478; Berger, MichaelORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1183-8410 and Oberndorfer, Moritz (2023) Equal in ashes? Exploring socioeconomic inequalities in lifespan based on obituary data in Austria. SSM - Population Health, 24, 101550. DOI: 10.1016/j.ssmph.2023.101550

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Understanding the emergence of and changes in socioeconomic inequalities in lifespan requires reliable, longitudinal data. In the absence of administrative data, published obituaries may be one such alternative source. With the validity of drawing relevant data from obituaries not yet established in population health research, this study addresses this gap by estimating socioeconomic inequalities in lifespan in Vorarlberg, Austria. Data for all individuals (n = 1490) with obituaries published (July to December 2022) in a regional newspaper (market share: 56%) were extracted, including different markers of the deceased's socioeconomic status. Linear regression analyses showed that, on average, individuals with medium-sized obituaries lived 6.02 years (95% CI: 4.19, 7.85) and individuals with the largest obituaries 12.04 years (95% CI: 7.04, 17.04) longer than individuals with small obituaries while blue-collar workers lived 10.50 years (95% CI: -14.51, -6.49) shorter than individuals with no occupation (reported). This socioeconomic gradient is in line with findings based on national data sources, and comparisons with official regional data are promising regarding data representativeness and completeness. With obituary size reflecting different costs (€210–€1626) and thus being a novel marker for financial ability, obituaries could also be a useful, innovative data source internationally for historical analyses or “nowcasting” health inequalities.

Item Type: Article in Academic Journal
Keywords: Health inequality, Lifespan, Socioeconomic indicators, Obituary Data, Regression analysis
Research Units: Current Research Groups > Health Economics and Health Policy
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2024 17:42
Last Modified: 22 Feb 2024 17:42
DOI: 10.1016/j.ssmph.2023.101550
ISSN: 2352-8273
URI: https://irihs.ihs.ac.at/id/eprint/6902

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