Scottish Longitudinal Study
Development & Support Unit

Current Projects

Project Title:

Assessing socio-economic inequalities in mortality at the Scottish national level, incorporating a comparison between mortality in Scotland and England

Project Number:



Paul Boyle (University of St Andrews)
Frank Popham (University of St Andrews)

Start Date:

Approved on 13-10-2009


Scotland has had, until now, to rely on unlinked data sources (the census for the denominator and death registrations for the nominator) when studying how mortality risk varies by socio-economic position at the national level. This approach has inherent problems associated with mismatches in the recording of individual socio-economic position (Leyland et al, 2007). Making use of the linked census data of Scottish Longitudinal Study, this project will present the first linked estimates of mortality variation in Scotland by socio-economic position, allowing comparisons with England and Wales and other European countries studied in the most recent European study of mortality (Mackenbach et al, 2008). Having such information is important to the work of the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy, which is funding the study, as it gives a baseline to which to compare Scotland’s future relative position. We have also been funded to make a more detailed comparison with data from England and Wales using the ONS LS to study the degree to which the `Scottish effect’ can be “explained” by differences in socio-economic position between the two countries. This meets a need highlighted in David Leon et al’s influential report which concluded “comparative studies of these census-linked datasets are likely to provide the most definitive answer to date about whether ‘a Scottish effect’ exists” (Leon et al, 2003).

A recent major European project compared mortality risk in a large number of European countries using linked census data, but did not include Scotland. This project aims to replicate this work in Scotland and to make further comparisons with England and Wales.

The project has two main aims:

  • To replicate the most recent European comparative work in Scotland on socio-economic variations in mortality using the Scottish Longitudinal Study, and
  • to make direct comparisons with England and Wales.


Mackenbach JP, Stirbu I, Roskam AJ, Schaap MM, Menvielle G, Leinsalu M, et al. Socioeconomic Inequalities in Health in 22 European Countries. N Engl J Med 2008;358(23):2468-81

Leon DA, Morton S, Cannegieter S, McKee M. Understanding the health of Scotland's population in an international context: a review of current approaches, knowledge and recommendations for new research directions. Glasgow: Public Health Institute of Scotland; 2003

Leyland AH, Dundas R, McLoone P, Boddy FA. Inequalities in Mortality in Scotland 1981-2001. Glasgow: MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit Occasional Paper No.16; 2007.

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