Health inequalities in the EU - Final report of a consortium. Consortium lead: Sir Michael Marmot

Author European Commission
Reference European Union 2013
This report provides an outline of new evidence on health inequalities in the European Union (EU) and the policy response at EU and national level to health inequalities since 2009. Health inequalities between Member States and regions The report confirms significant health inequalities between and within EU Member States. 

The size of the health inequalities is for the most part similar to that identified in ‘Health inequalities: Europe in profile’, published in 2006. Within this broad picture some indicators of inequality have decreased, some have remained constant and others have increased. By 2010, inequalities in life expectancy at birth between Member States in the EU had decreased by 10 % for women but only by 3 % for men compared with 10 years earlier. These changes reflected decreases in infant mortality and the mortality of children aged less than 15, and were partly offset for women, and fully offset for men, by increases in inequalities above this age, especially at ages 15–24. Inequalities in infant mortality between Member States dropped by 26 % between 2000 and 2010. Progress was particularly marked after 2005, when inequalities fell by 19 % up to 2010. Inequalities in mortality between Member States at ages 1–14 also fell between 2000 and 2010 — by about 35 % for males and 27 % for females. In this case, the reductions were fairly evenly split between the first and second half of the decade. For those aged 15–24, inequalities in mortality between Member States have increased since 2003. This is because death rates in low-mortality countries continued their downward trend but death rates in many countries in which mortality was above the EU average either stalled or increased slightly, particularly for males. Between the start and the end of the decade inequality between Member States increased by 64 and 19 % for men and women, respectively. There is no evidence of a decline in inequalities in life expectancy between EU regions. Although inequality in infant mortality between regions in the EU in the period 2007– 09 was nearly 12 % lower than in 2002–04, for other indicators — such as life expectancy at age 50 for males — it increased. Within three countries — Belgium, France and Hungary — regional inequalities increased in infant mortality and male and female life expectancy at birth, 50 and 65. Within the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Sweden inequalities increased for six of these seven indicators. Reductions in inequalities were greatest in Spain, the Netherlands and Romania. In making these comparisons of trends, it should however be noted that absolute levels of mortality were very low in Swedish regions throughout the decade and higher than the EU average in Romania.