BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Several studies observed that people from lower socioeconomic groups have higher chances of dying of stroke. There are reasons to expect that these differences are relatively small in southern European countries or in Nordic welfare states. This report therefore presents an international overview of socioeconomic differences in stroke mortality. METHODS: Unpublished data on mortality by occupational class were obtained from national longitudinal studies or cross-sectional studies. The data refer to deaths among men aged 30 to 64 years in the 1980s. A common occupational class scheme was applied to most countries. The mortality difference between manual classes and nonmanual classes was measured in relative terms (by rate ratios) and in absolute terms (by rate differences). RESULTS: In all countries, manual classes had higher stroke mortality rates than nonmanual classes. This difference was relatively large in England and Wales, Ireland, and Finland and relatively small in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Italy, and Spain. Differences were intermediate in the United States, France, and Switzerland. In Portugal, mortality differences were intermediate in relative terms but large in absolute terms. In most countries, inequalities were much larger for stroke mortality than for ischemic heart disease mortality. CONCLUSIONS: Socioeconomic differences in stroke mortality are a problem common to all countries studied. There are probably large variations, however, in the contribution that different risk factors, such as tobacco and alcohol consumption, make to the stroke mortality excess of lower socioeconomic groups. Medical services can contribute to reducing socioeconomic differences in stroke mortality.

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Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Kunst, A., del Rios, M., Groenhof, F., & Mackenbach, J. (1998). Socioeconomic inequalities in stroke mortality among middle-aged men: an international overview. European Union Working Group on Socioeconomic Inequalities in Health. Stroke, 29(11), 2285–2291. Retrieved from