Mortality and migration in Britain, first results from the British Household Panel Survey

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

October 1, 1999


This study investigates the extent to which current geographical variations in mortality are influenced by patterns of migration since birth. It is based on a longitudinal study of migrants which consists of a representative sample of 10264 British residents born after 1890 and enumerated as part of the British Household Panel Study in 1991. Between 1991 and 1996, 527 of the study members died and these deaths were analysed by area of residence at birth and in 1991 at both the regional and local district geographical scales. These were compared with findings from the Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study.
The British Household Panel Survey sample replicates the results of work conducted on the Longitudinal Study which finds that geographical variations in age-sex standardised mortality ratios at the regional scale cannot be attributed to selective migration. However, for the British Household Panel Survey sample, the major geographical variations at district level could be attributed to selective migration.
Geographical variations in mortality are not well understood. Restrictions on what it is possible to analyse in the Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study may have resulted in the underestimation of the importance of local lifetime selective migration in producing the contemporary map of mortality variation across Britain. The British Household Panel Survey is a small, recent, but very flexible study, which can be used to investigate the effects of lifetime migration on mortality patterns for all of Britain. This first report of its results on mortality shows that it produces findings which accord with the much larger Longitudinal Study, but which can be taken further to show that selective migration over the whole life-course at the local level does appear to have significantly altered the geographical pattern of mortality seen in Britain today.

Published in

Social Science and Medicine


Volume: 49(7), 981-988



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