Intended for healthcare professionals


Intelligence, education, and mortality

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 27 April 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c563
  1. G David Batty, Wellcome Trust career development fellow1,
  2. Mika Kivimäki, professor of social epidemiology2,
  3. Ian J Deary, professor of differential psychology3
  1. 1Medical Research Council Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Glasgow G12 8RZ
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London WC1E 6BT
  3. 3Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9JZ
  1. david-b{at}

    Are linked in several ways, so strategies to reduce inequalities should be broadly based

    Socioeconomic status can be indexed in a variety of ways, but usually on the basis of an individual’s occupational social class, income, education, and housing tenure. Data accumulated over several decades show that these characteristics are associated with differences in health, particularly within affluent societies. With the exception of few outcomes—incidence of breast cancer in women and selected injuries—poorer health is more common in poorer people.1 Moreover, this gradient seems to be apply across the full socioeconomic range, rather than being confined to the most disadvantaged end of the spectrum. A worldwide reduction in these differentials has become a priority for many governments, including that of the United Kingdom,1 and for the World Health Organization, which in 2005 launched the Global Commission on Social Determinants of Health.2

    In endeavouring to ameliorate health inequalities, it is important to understand the underlying causes; two BMJ studies attempt to describe the gradient more clearly3 and understand what factors explain it.4 In the linked study from Norway (doi: 10.1136/bmj.c654), Strand and colleagues assess the relation between educational inequalities and mortality from 1960 to 2000.3 In a recently published study, Lager and colleagues investigated the association between early IQ, educational attainment, and mortality in Sweden. …

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