Sonja Settele, University of Copenhagen
Title: "The Origins of Socioeconomic Inequality in Cancer Mortality - Evidence from Denmark” (with Benjamin Ly Serena).
Abstract: We study the role of cancer -- the leading cause of death in high income countries -- in driving the income gradient in life expectancy. Based on Danish administrative data, we decompose the overall role of cancer in accounting for income-related inequality in life expectancy into shares accounted for by differences in the incidence of cancer, the timeliness of cancer detection, treatment, comorbidities and finally residual mortality holding all previous factors constant. We find that a higher incidence of cancer and a higher residual mortality of low income patients account for the largest part of the income difference in life years lost. Cancers of the respiratory and of the digestive system are the biggest drivers of inequality and known to be caused by unhealthy behavior. Taken together, our findings suggest that to mitigate inequality in cancer-specific mortality policy makers should focus on promoting healthier lifestyles, whereas early detection and treatment through the Danish health care system are already equal for patients with different incomes.