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Publications archive - Ecologically Sustainable Development

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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Are We Sustaining Australia? Report Against Headline Sustainabilty Indicators

Environment Australia, 2002
ISBN 0 642 54771 8


Value 15: Health and socio-economic equity

Rationale for inclusion of issue

Poor health is often associated with economic disadvantage. An increase in general good health among low income people, relative to the general community, would be indicative that the distribution of good health in the community is becoming more equitable.

Indicator 17

(i) Percentage difference in burden of life years lost due to disability between bottom and top
socio-economic quintile in 1996

41-45%

(ii) Percentage difference in burden of life years lost due to mortality between bottom and top
socio-economic quintile in 1996

26-41%

Source: Colin Mathers, Theo Vos and Chris Stevenson, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, The Burden of Disease and Injury in Australia, 1999.

Rationale for selection of indicators

Given that disability free life expectancy has been selected as the headline indicator for the health of the general community, ideally an indicator of the disability free life expectancy of low income people could be compared with that of the general community to show the association between socio-economic and health disadvantage and thus to show any trend towards increasing health equity.

However neither of these data are currently available. The best currently available indicators of health equity are: percentage difference in burden of life years lost due to mortality between bottom and top socio-economic quintile; and percentage difference in burden of life years lost due to disability between bottom and top socio-economic quintile. (The socio-economic quintiles are derived from the socio-economic indexes produced by the ABS from each Census and are calculated on the basis of the economic and social characteristics of geographic areas.)

Explanatory and elaborative information

The burden of life years lost due to disability in the bottom socio-economic quintile is 45% higher for males and 41% higher for females than in the top quintile.

The burden of life years lost due to mortality in the bottom socio-economic quintile is 26% higher for females and 41% higher for males than in the top quintile. The causes of death that are significantly higher for males in the lowest quintile than for males in the top quintile are: sudden infant death syndrome (0-14 years), road traffic accidents (all age groups), injuries (0-24 years), lung cancer, stroke, diabetes mellitus and ischaemic heart disease (25-65 years). The causes of death that are significantly higher for women in the lowest quintile than for women in the top quintile are: sudden infant death syndrome (0-14 years), road traffic accidents (15-64 years), injuries (0-14 years), diabetes mellitus, lung cancer and ischaemic heart disease (25-65 years).