Life Expectancy By Educational Attainment in Russia in 2015 : What Is the New?

Anastasiya Pyankova, Higher School of Economics
Timur Fattakhov, Higher School of Economics

Starting from 1998 there is a little knowledge about mortality inequality since data collection on socio-economic indicators of deceased has been discontinued and resumed only in 2011. This paper aims to present new estimates of socioeconomic mortality inequality in Russia in 2015 and to quantify the contribution of age- and cause-specific factors to socioeconomic differences in life expectancy at age 30 by educational attainment (hereinafter LE at 30).

LE at 30 were calculated using 2015 microcensus (1.5% of population) and individual death records (both produced by Federal state statistics service). Mortality disparities were assessed using rate differences and rate ratios. Contribution of age- and cause-specific mortality to difference in the LE at age 30 by educational level was estimated using Andreev’s decomposition method.

The LE at 30 of men and women was 37.9 and 47.9 years respectively. The social gradient is expressed clearly: higher educational level, correlates with higher LE. Difference in LE between men and women decreases as education level grows.

Absolute mortality differences between high-educated and low-educated is 17.5 and 14.5 years for men and women respectively, rate ratio is 1.6 and 1.4 respectively. We conclude that despite the fact that LE has returned to the level of the late 1980’s, the level of absolute and relative inequality in mortality has dramatically increased.

Mortality gap between high-educated and low-educated men is mainly due to excess mortality in 30-60 (11.8 years of all difference). The difference in LE at 30 is the result of cardiovascular mortality (33%), external (25%) and other (8%) causes of death. For women difference is distributed more evenly and the result of the same causes of death ranking in the same order (42%, 12% 13%).

The contribution of neoplasms is 1.2 and 0.9 years for men and women respectively ranking only 6th position.


Background:

Existence of education gradient in life expectancy in Russia was documented only in 1990’s, as investigation of socio-economic differences in mortality were banned in Soviet period. Earlier papers revealed educational differences in mortality in Russia in 1970’s -1980’s were at least as significant as in Western countries, and were largely similar to those observed in Eastern Bloc. Starting from 1998 there is a little knowledge about mortality inequality since data collection on socio-economic indicators including education of deceased has been discontinued and resumed only in 2011. Meanwhile contemporary death records are suffering from omissions of educational attainment of deceased (25.4% of all records in 2015).

Objectives:

This paper aims to present new estimates of socioeconomic mortality inequality in Russia in 2015 as well as to quantify the contribution of age- and cause-specific factors to socioeconomic differences in life expectancy at age 30 by educational attainment among men and women.

Data and methods:

Our study is based on cross-sectional data. Firstly, we address the problem of incomplete data on educational attainment. The exclusion of death records from the analysis is considered inappropriate since it could lead to an overestimation of the life expectancy for low-educated people and an underestimation of the mortality inequalities. Education-specific standardized death rates by causes of death and LE at 30 were calculated using 2015 microcensus (1.5% of population) and individual death records (both produced by Federal state statistics service). Mortality disparities were assessed using rate differences and rate ratios. Contribution of age- and cause-specific mortality to difference in the LE at age 30 by educational level was estimated using Andreev’s decomposition method.

Results:

In 2015, the life expectancy (hereinafter LE) of Russian men and women at age 30 was 37.9 and 47.9 years respectively. The social gradient is expressed clearly: higher educational level, correlates with higher LE. LE at age 30 for high-educated men and women is 47.2 and 55.5 years respectively; for secondary-educated - 37.7 and 47,9 years respectively; for lower than secondary-educated - 29.7 and 41 years respectively. Difference in LE between men and women decreases as education level grows.

Absolute mortality differences between high-educated and low-educated is 17.5 years for men, and 14.5 years for women, rate ratio is 1.6 for men and 1.4 for women. Comparing our results to those of other scholars for previous time periods we conclude that despite the fact that LE has returned to the level of the late 1980’s (37.9 for men and 47.4 for women), the level of absolute and relative inequality in mortality has increased. This proves the fact that mortality burden is more unevenly distributed between educational groups in modern Russia, comparing to late 1980’s.

Mortality gap between high-educated and low-educated men (17.5 years) is mainly due to excess mortality in age range of 30-60. This age interval accumulates 11.8 years of loss (67% of all mortality differences) among the low-educated comparing to the high-educated counterparts. In terms of the causes of death the difference in LE is the result of cardiovascular mortality (33.4%), followed by external causes of death (24.8%), other causes of death (8.1%).

For women difference in LE is distributed more evenly and is the result of cardiovascular mortality (42.3%), external causes of death (12.7%), other causes of death (13.2%). The latter age interval accumulates 35% of all LE difference.

It’s worth noting that the contribution of neoplasms is 1.2 year for men and 0.9 for women, ranking only 6th place for both sexes.

Exogenous causes of death contribute more to difference at working age, while endogenous appears at older age. This is true both for men and women.

The most discriminating causes of death, which puts most uneven burden on least educated groups of population, are (in descending order): infectious and parasitic diseases, external causes, diseases of the respiratory organs; for women additionally diseases of the digestive system.

There are two distinct aspects of excess mortality in the group with education below secondary versus one with high education: (1) increased mortality from external causes and infectious diseases at working age, and (2) high premature mortality from cardiovascular diseases in all age groups.

Conclusion:

On one hand contribution of educational attainment to life expectancy inequalities for different age groups should be taken into account in establishing efficient and effective policies of reducing socioeconomic inequalities. On the other hand over the past decades there was a strong decline in the size of the lower education group in Russia (from 42.3% in 1989 to 9.8% in 2015). A smaller size may imply a more homogeneous social structure therefore it may lead to increased mortality inequality in the near future.

Presented in Session 1193: Mortality and Longevity