The Role of Smoking on Mortality Compression: An Analysis of Finnish Occupational Social Classes, 1971-2010

Alyson A. van Raalte, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Pekka Martikainen, University of Helsinki

Adult lifespan variation has been stagnant since the 1960s in most countries, despite increases in longevity. We investigated the role that smoking has played in this stagnation using Finnish register data by occupational class (1971-2007). We expected stronger mortality compression in the absence of smoking and expected smoking-attributable mortality to explain divergences in compression by occupational group. Instead we only found a modest impact on lifespan variation from smoking, despite it having a large impact on longevity. Among men, diverging trends in lifespan variation by occupational class would have widened even further in the absence of smoking, while among women trends in lifespan variation were mostly unaffected by smoking. The maturation of the smoking epidemic is not expected to bring about strong reductions in the uncertainty in the timing of death, nor is it expected to reduce inequalities in this dimension by occupational class in Finland.

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Presented in Session 58: Health Behaviors and Inequality