Inequality in mortality decreased among the young while increasing for older adults, 1990–2010

Many recent studies point to increasing inequality in mortality in the U.S. over the past twenty years. These studies often use mortality rates in middle and old age. Here we study inequality in mortality for all age groups in 1990, 2000, and 2010. Our analysis is based on groups of counties ranked by their poverty levels. Consistent with previous studies, we find increasing inequality in mortality at older ages. For children and young adults below age 20, however, we find strong mortality improvements that are most pronounced in poorer counties, implying a strong decrease in mortality inequality. These younger cohorts will form the future adult U.S. population, so this research suggests that inequality in old age mortality is likely to decline in future.

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