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Does ethnic diversity explain intra-UK variation in mortality? A longitudinal cohort study

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  • Lauren Schofield
  • David Walsh
  • Zhiqiang Feng
  • Duncan Buchanan
  • Chris Dibben
  • Colin Fischbacher
  • Gerry McCartney
  • Rosalia Munoz-Arroyo
  • Bruce Whyte

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Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ Open
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2019


Objectives It has been proposed that part of the explanation for higher mortality in Scotland compared with England and Wales, and Glasgow compared with other UK cities, relates to greater ethnic diversity in England and Wales. We sought to assess the extent to which this excess was attenuated by adjusting for ethnicity. We additionally explored the role of country of birth in any observed differences.

Setting Scotland and England and Wales; Glasgow and Manchester.

Participants We used the Scottish Longitudinal Study and the Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study of England and Wales (2001–2010). Participants (362 491 in total) were aged 35–74 years at baseline.

Primary outcome measures Risk of all-cause mortality between 35 and 74 years old in Scotland and England and Wales, and in Glasgow and Manchester, adjusting for age, gender, socioeconomic position (SEP), ethnicity and country of birth.

Results 18% of the Manchester sample was non-White compared with 3% in Glasgow (England and Wales: 10.4%; Scotland: 1.2%). The mortality incidence rate ratio was 1.33 (95% CI 1.13 to 1.56) in Glasgow compared with Manchester. This reduced to 1.25 (1.07 to 1.47) adjusting for SEP, and to 1.20 (1.02 to 1.42) adjusting for ethnicity and country of birth. For Scotland versus England and Wales, the corresponding figures were 18% higher mortality, reducing to 10%, and then 7%. Non-Whites born outside the UK had lower mortality. In the Scottish samples only, non-Whites born in the UK had significantly higher mortality than Whites born in the UK.

Conclusions The research supports the hypothesis that ethnic diversity and migration from outside UK play a role in explaining Scottish excess mortality. In Glasgow especially, however, a large excess remains: thus, previously articulated policy implications (addressing poverty, vulnerability and inequality) still apply.

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