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Poverty-Mortality Association Unchanged in England

Last Updated: September 11, 2009.

Despite myriad medical, public health, social, economic and political changes, the association between poverty and mortality in England and Wales is as strong today as it was at the start of the 20th century, according to a study published online Sept. 10 in BMJ.

FRIDAY, Sept. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Despite myriad medical, public health, social, economic and political changes, the association between poverty and mortality in England and Wales is as strong today as it was at the start of the 20th century, according to a study published online Sept. 10 in BMJ.

Ian N. Gregory, Ph.D., of Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, compared census and mortality data from the 1900s with 2001 data in 634 districts.

The author found that the strength of the association between deprivation and mortality did not significantly change between the start and end of the 20th century, and that modern patterns of mortality and deprivation are closely related to those of a century ago. After adjustment for modern deprivation, he found that standardized mortality ratios from the 1900s are significantly correlated with modern mortality and most modern causes of death. However, after adjustment for modern deprivation, there is not a significant relationship between deprivation in the 1900s and modern mortality for most causes of death.

"Patterns of mortality and deprivation are deeply entrenched such that in both cases the patterns of a century ago are strong predictors of today's patterns," the author writes. "This is not simply because of inertia in socioeconomic conditions because mortality in the 1900s is significantly related to modern mortality even when modern deprivation is taken into account. This is true of many modern causes of death, including most common cancers and circulatory and respiratory disease."

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