Differential survival in Europe and the United States: estimates based on subjective probabilities of survival

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2011


Cross-country comparisons of differential survival by socioeconomic
status (SES) are useful in many domains. Yet, to date, such studies have been
rare. Reliably estimating differential survival in a single country has been
challenging because it requires rich panel data with a large sample size. Crosscountry
estimates have proven even more difficult because the measures of SES
need to be comparable internationally. We present an alternative method for
acquiring information on differential survival by SES. Rather than using
observations of actual survival, we relate individuals’ subjective probabilities of
survival to SES variables in cross section. To show that subjective survival
probabilities are informative proxies for actual survival when estimating
differential survival, we compare estimates of differential survival based on
actual survival with estimates based on subjective probabilities of survival for the
same sample. The results are remarkably similar. We then use this approach to
compare differential survival by SES for 10 European countries and the United
States. Wealthier people have higher survival probabilities than those who are
less wealthy, but the strength of the association differs across countries. Nations
with a smaller gradient appear to be Belgium, France, and Italy, while the United
States, England, and Sweden appear to have a larger gradient.

Published in


Volume and page numbers

Volume: 48 , p.1 -1






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