What does Eurostat’s Labour Force Survey say about health and health inequalities in the European Union?



By Stefano Mazzuco and Marc Suhrcke
2010, vi + 87 pages
ISBN 978 92 890 0218 9
This publication is only available online.

This publication presents extensive analysis of newly available data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) of Eurostat (the statistical office of the European Union) to measure health and socioeconomic inequalities in health in 25 European countries over a period including 1983–2004 at most. The study first defined several, predominantly labour-market-related health indicators, plus one weighted, overall health index. The authors documented the limitations of using this information to measure average national health status, and focused on the use of the health information to assess socioeconomic inequalities in health. Standard concentration indices were calculated using five different proxies for socioeconomic status. After decomposing the inequality data into their trend and seasonal components, the authors found health inequalities to have been increasing for most but by no means all countries and health indicators. These results do not appear to be sensitive to the various proxies for socioeconomic status employed. Overall, while not without problems, the LFS may well add a useful and hitherto unexploited resource for measuring socioeconomic inequalities in health across European countries and over time.