Forecasting future socio-economic inequalities in longevity: the impact of lifestyle ‘epidemics’


In modern welfare states, people with low socio-economic status (SES) live, on average, 3-10 years less than people with high SES. The recent increase in these socio-economic longevity inequalities (SELI), despite efforts to reduce SELI, is cause for concern. How are these SELI likely to develop in the future, and how responsive are future SELI to policy measures?
Currently, reliable estimates of future SELI are lacking, and our understanding of the determinants of past SELI trends is insufficient to enable us to fully grasp these past trends, and to accurately predict future trends. The differential timing and impact of the wave-shaped smoking, obesity, and alcohol ‘epidemics’ on socio-economic groups indicate that future SELI trends will not be simple continuations of past trends.
I aim to estimate future socio-economic longevity inequalities in Europe, thereby integrating to-be-generated knowledge into the impact of lifestyle ‘epidemics’, and assessing the responsiveness of future SELI to policy measures.
I will determine the changing individual and combined impact of smoking, obesity, and alcohol consumption on past trends in SELI by implementing a novel conceptual framework on the determinants of SELI trends via a cross-national and dynamic empirical approach. By implementing a novel integrative mortality forecasting approach, I will estimate the future progression of lifestyle epidemics by socio-economic group, and future SELI. I will determine the responsiveness of future SELI to (health) policy by implementing different scenarios that estimate future SELI under alternative conditions. By integrating SELI into contemporary mortality forecasts, I will obtain estimates of future longevity that are both accurate and detailed.
The project will advance knowledge on both SELI and future longevity; contribute to evidence-based priority-setting by policymakers aiming to reduce SELI; improve the practice of mortality forecasting; and contribute to societal and political debates on health inequalities, future longevity and healthy ageing.





Prof. dr. F. Janssen

Verbonden aan

Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Faculteit Ruimtelijke Wetenschappen, Demografie


01/09/2020 tot 31/08/2025