Trends in inequalities in disability in Europe between 2002 and 2017

Jose R. Rubio Valverde*, Johan P. Mackenbach, Wilma J. Nusselder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Monitoring socioeconomic inequalities in population health is important in order to reduce them. We aim to determine if educational inequalities in Global Activity Limitation Indicator (GALI) disability have changed between 2002 and 2017 in Europe (26 countries). We used logistic regression to quantify the annual change in disability prevalence by education, as well as the annual change in prevalence difference and ratio, both for the pooled sample and each country, as reported in the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) and the European Social Survey (ESS) for individuals aged 30–79 years. In EU-SILC, disability prevalence tended to decrease among the high educated. As a result, both the prevalence difference and the prevalence ratio between the low and high educated increased over time. There were no discernible trends in the ESS. However, there was substantial heterogeneity between countries in the magnitude and direction of these changes, but without clear geographical patterns and without consistency between surveys. Socioeconomic inequalities in disability appear to have increased over time in Europe between 2002 and 2017 as per EU-SILC, and have persisted as measured by the ESS. Efforts to further harmonise disability instruments in international surveys are important, and so are studies to better understand international differences in disability trends and inequalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)712-720
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding This study was conducted as part of the project ’Longer life, longer in good health, working longer? Implications of educational differences for the pension system’, which has received financial support from Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement (Netspar).

Publisher Copyright:
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ.


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