The Income Gradient in Mortality during the COVID-19 Crisis: Evidence from Belgium

This article studies the distributional pattern of mortality before and during the Covid-19 pandemic in Belgium. Excess mortality wass only found among those aged 65 and over. For this group, a significant negative income gradient in excess mortality was found, with excess deaths in the bottom income decile more than twice as high as in the top income decile for both men and women. However, given the high inequality in mortality in normal times, the income gradient in all-cause mortality is only marginally steeper during the peak of the health crisis when expressed in relative terms. There is direct evidence that geographic location effects on individual mortality are particularly strong during the Covid-19 pandemic, channeling through the local number of Covid infections. This makes inference about the income gradient in excess mortality based on geographic variation misguided.

Authors: A. Decoster, T. Minten, J. Spinnewijn

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Communicable diseases, Financial security, social protection, social inclusion, access to care, poverty

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