Multidimensional social inequalities as demographic determinants: mortality inequalities, excess mortality, and working life expectancy (WorkDeathIneq)


Title: Multidimensional social inequalities as demographic determinants: mortality inequalities, excess mortality, and working life expectancy
Acronym: WorkDeathIneq 
Principal Investigator: Timothy Riffe 
Funder: Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación
Grant Identifier: PID2022-142762OA-I00
Total funded amount: 100000.00€
Dates: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2027

Summary: This project aims to measure and understand (1) mortality inequalities and (2) inequalities in the working life course. Specifically, for mortality inequalities, there is ample literature on single mortality gradients, such as education or income, but none looks at the intersection of gradients. There is no such evidence because it is too hard (or impossible) to match death numerators from vital registration with population denominators from registers. However, the Spanish Social Security (Muestra Continua de Vidas Laborales-MCVL) data we plan to use lets the researcher aggregate both numerators and denominators from the same source, overcoming this challenge. In a second sub-project, we will (i) produce high-quality small-area lifetables for Spain, and (ii) we will join small-area mortality estimates with a database of contextual variables to produce  diverse estimates of mortality inequalities, and then explain them using demographic decomposition. In a third sub-project, we will produce high-resolution life-course transition data, also by social strata, to uncover the role of precarity in the working life course. We will produce precarious working life expectancies, and working life expectancy estimates that take precarious work into account, and we will reveal gender gaps in precarious work.

Methods: (1) We will use vital registration data and advanced small-area mortality estimation methods. (2) We will use detailed Spanish social security data (MCVL) to estimate multistate models of life course transitions and discrete time Markov methods to calculate various aggregate statistics from these. (3) We will use the same MCVL data to estimate various dimensions of excess mortality.

Expected results: We hope to shed light on the weight of precarious work in the life course of Spanish generations and how it is expressed differently through the population. We hope to characterize mortality differences in terms of levels, trends, excesses, causes, geography, and intersections of social class. 

Social relevance: Monitoring social differences in mortality lets us know how much we could equalize and improve mortality outcomes by simply closing social gaps. Knowledge of the cause-of-death profiles of different kinds of mortality gradients tells us how much a mortality gap between groups can be reduced by tackling specific causes, some of which have obvious risk factors or can be directly categorized as avoidable causes of death. Better quantifying the role of precarious work on the life course can tell us how much leverage this phenomenon has on lifetime earnings and years worked, how much it accounts for gender gaps in employment profiles, and what the net effects on the economy could be if working life were more stable.

Scientific value: We will introduce a new synthetic concept of precarious employment as a state for multistate models of working life expectancy, and conduct counterfactual analyses for the Spanish labor market. We will attempt to answer the question of whether all mortality gradients defined by diverse risk strata are fundamentally different in their cause-of-death structure (or whether all mortality gradients are the same). We will produce among the first studies of intersectional mortality, with separate treatments for outcomes such as levels, trends, and excesses. For all studies, we will produce reproducible open code repositories and shareable standardized data inputs and outputs.