Vienna Institute of Demography Working Papers 2/2008
The aim of this paper is to explore the relationship between alcohol-related mortality and social status among men in Austria, and to examine changes during the 1980s and 1990s. We linked individual census records for the Austrian population from 1981, 1991, and 2001 with death register records for a follow-up period of one year. The final data set contains 5,038,654 records of men 35-74 years old, of whom 3824 died of causes explicitly related to alcohol abuse. Standardized mortality ratios by education, occupation and employment were calculated for alcohol- and non-alcohol-related causes of death. A regression-based inequality measure was used for analyses of trends. We find that low educated men were 2.77 (1981/82), 3.49 (1991/92), and 3.23 (2001/02) times more likely to die of alcohol-related causes of death than high educated, while it was just 1.59, 1.80, and 1.89 for other conditions. Among men 35-59 years old, unskilled blue-collar workers had on average a 5.6 and 5.0 times higher risk than upper white-collar employees in 1981/82 and 1991/92; for non-alcohol related causes it was 2.0 and 2.2. Unemployed or early retired men were particularly at risk. In 2001/02 low-skilled inactive were 18 times more likely to die on alcohol-related causes than high-skilled economically active men. Over time the social inequalities in alcohol-related mortality increased but only between 1981/82 and 1991/92; and among those 35-59 years old only for the economically inactive. A good education and sophisticated vocational skills are important protective factors for alcohol problems; however, what matters most is whether or not people are employed.