Life Expectancy by Education, Income and Occupation in Germany: Estimations Using the Longitudinal Survival Method

Marc Luy, Christian Wegner-Siegmundt, Angela Wiedemann, Jeroen Spijker

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Reliable estimates for differences in life expectancy (LE) by socio-economic
position (SEP), that can be assessed in an international context and are comprehensive
in terms of considering different SEP dimensions, are missing for the
German population so far. The aim of the present study is to fill this gap by providing
estimates for differences in LE by education, household income, work status and
vocational class. The lack of national mortality data by SEP required an innovative
methodological approach to estimate LE from survey data with a mortality followup.
The main strengths of the method are the low demand on the data, its simple
applicability and the estimation of a set of age-specific probabilities of dying. We
employed the method to the German Life Expectancy Survey and estimated period
life tables for 45 male and 32 female SEP subpopulations. The results show striking
differences in LE across all analysed SEP indicators. Among men, LE at age 40
ranges by more than five years between the lowest and highest household income
quartiles, more than six years between individuals with low and high education,
around ten years across the work status groups, and almost 15 years across the
vocational classes. The proportion of those who reach the classic pension age of
65 years also varies considerably, as does the remaining LE at this age. The corresponding
differences among women are smaller, yet still notable. The results yield
an interesting finding for the ongoing discussion about the various consequences
of an increased pension age. Moreover, they provide policy-makers, doctors, researchers
and public health workers with insights into Germany's most disadvantaged
SEP subpopulations and the potential extent of their disadvantages in terms
of longevity and mortality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-436
JournalComparative Population Studies - Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Cite this