Towards a geography of health inequalities in Ireland

Jan Rigby, Mark Boyle, Christopher Brunsdon, Martin Charlton, Danny Dorling, Ronan Foley, Walter French


Relationships between health inequalities and social disadvantage are well established, but less is known about spatial variations in health. Most geographical studies of health in Ireland have been conducted at a county level. Counties are too large to identify more localised pockets of poor health, whereas electoral districts (EDs) can be too small to permit stable estimates of the underlying rates, due to the small number of deaths each year. This paper reports the findings of an analysis of deaths in 2006 and 2011 using a new set of 407 areas intermediate in size between counties and EDs. The areas having the lowest and the highest age standardised death rates were mostly in Dublin and the other larger cities, but there is at least a 3-fold difference which demonstrates inequalities in health outcomes. Further modelling is required to establish whether this simply reflects the geography of social status.

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