Are manual workers at higher risk of death than non-manual employees when living in Swedish municipalities with higher income inequality?Eur J Public Health. 2007 Apr; 17(2):139-44.EJ
To test the hypothesis that manual workers are at higher risk of death than are non-manual employees when living in municipalities with higher income inequality.
Hierarchical regression was used for the analysis were individuals were nested within municipalities according to the 1990 Swedish census. The outcome was all-cause mortality 1992-1998. The income measure at the individual level was disposable family income weighted against composition of family; the income inequality measure used at the municipality level was the Gini coefficient.
The study population consisted of 1 578 186 people aged 40-64 years in the 1990 Swedish census, who were being reported as unskilled or skilled manual workers, lower-, intermediate-, or high-level non-manual employees.
There was no significant association between income inequality at the municipality level and risk of death, but an expected gradient with unskilled manual workers having the highest risk and high-level non-manual employees having the lowest. However, in the interaction models the relative risk (RR) of death for high-level non-manual employees was decreasing with increasing income inequality (RR = 0.77; 95% CI, 0.63-0.93), whereas the corresponding risk for unskilled manual workers increased with increasing income inequality (RR = 1.24; 95% CI, 1.06-1.46). The RRs for skilled manual, low- and medium- level non-manual employees were not significant. Controlling for income at the individual level did not substantially alter these findings, neither did potential confounders at the municipality level.
The findings suggest that there could be a differential impact from income inequality on risk of death, dependent on individuals' social position.