Australians as a whole enjoy good health, but the benefits are not shared equally by all. People who are socioeconomically disadvantaged have, on average, greater levels of cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes and chronic kidney disease (CKD).
This report uses latest available data to measure socioeconomic inequalities in the incidence, prevalence and mortality from these 3 diseases, and where possible, assess whether these inequalities are growing. Findings include that, in 2016:
- males aged 25 and over living in the lowest socioeconomic areas of Australia had a heart attack rate 1.55 times as high as males in the highest socioeconomic areas. For females, the disparity was even greater, at 1.76 times as high
- type 2 diabetes prevalence for females in the lowest socioeconomic areas was 2.07 times as high as for females in the highest socioeconomic areas. The prevalence for males was 1.70 times as high
- the rate of treated end-stage kidney disease for males in the lowest socioeconomic areas was 1.52 times as high as for males in the highest socioeconomic areas. The rate for females was 1.75 times as high
- the CVD death rate for males in the lowest socioeconomic areas was 1.52 times as high as for males in the highest socioeconomic areas. For females, the disparity was slightly less, at 1.33 times as high
- if all Australians had the same CVD death rate as people in the highest socioeconomic areas in 2016, the total CVD death rate would have declined by 25%, and there would have been 8,600 fewer deaths.
CVD death rates have declined for both males and females in all socioeconomic areas since 2001— however there have been greater falls for males in higher socioeconomic areas, and as a result, inequalities in male CVD death rates have grown.
- Both absolute and relative inequality in male CVD death rates increased—the rate difference increasing from 62 per 100,000 in 2001 to 78 per 100,000 in 2011, and the relative index of inequality (RII) from 0.25 in 2001 to 0.53 in 2016.
Often, the health outcomes affected by socioeconomic inequalities are greater when assessed by individual characteristics (such as income level or highest educational attainment), than by area.
- Inequalities in CVD death rates by highest education level in 2011–12 (RII = 1.05 for males and 1.05 for females) were greater than by socioeconomic area in 2011 (0.50 for males and 0.41 for females).
The impact on death rates of socioeconomic inequality was generally greater for diabetes and CKD than for CVD.
- In 2016, the diabetes death rate for females in the lowest socioeconomic areas was 2.39 times as high as for females in the highest socioeconomic areas. This compares to a ratio 1.75 times as high for CKD, and 1.33 for CVD. For males, the equivalent rate ratios were 2.18 (diabetes), 1.64 (CKD) and 1.52 (CVD).