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New study of the Assistant Professorship of Behavioral Science for Disease Prevention and Health Care: Large social group differences in life expectancy in India

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Researchers from the Assistant Professorship of Behavioral Science for Disease Prevention and Health Care and Harvard University found in a new study that individuals from higher castes have a life expectancy that is between four to seven years higher than those from the lower castes, even though discrimination on the basis of caste system was banned in India 63 years ago. More importantly, these differences have not closed over the past nearly 20 years. The study shows an acute need for action.

The study "Large and Persistent Life Expectancy Disparities Between India's Social Groups" was published in the journal "Population and Development Review"
Prof. Dr. Nikkil Sudharsanan, head of the Assistant Professorship of Behavioral Science for Disease Prevention and Health Care

Caste outweighs the law

India is one of the most hierarchical societies in the world. The Indian constitution prohibits discrimination against citizens by caste. The reality, however, is different and economic, educational, professional, and social opportunities for members of lower castes are significantly limited.

Under the title "Life Expectancy Disparities Between India's Social Groups", Prof. Dr. Nikkil Sudharsanan of the Assistant Professorship of Behavioral Science for Disease Prevention and Health Care now examined whether these unequal conditions also extend to life expectancy in India. The study was recently published in the journal "Population and Development Review”, one of the leading journals for population studies.

Call for better health care and attention to social conditions for marginalized groups

Thanks to a novel analysis of routine data from household surveys, the researchers were able to show substantial differences in mortality across ages. Not only were there large social class differences in infant mortality, the mortality gap between marginalized and privileged social groups continues throughout the life course.

"Privileged women have a life expectancy that is up to 4.4 years longer than women belonging to a marginalized group. For men, the difference is even larger at nearly seven years," says Prof. Sudharsanan, summarizing the core findings.

Accordingly, the expert calls for action against to reduce these extremely large health inequalities in India: "The differences in life expectancy have not decreased in the last 20 years. We urgently need to figure out solutions, but we shouldn’t just focus on the health care system but also the broader structural causes health inequalities.”
 

To the study "Large and Persistent Life Expectancy Disparities between India's Social Groups”

To the website of the Assistant Professorship of Behavioral Science for Disease Prevention and Health Care

 

Contact:

Prof. Dr. Nikkil Sudharsanan
Assistant Professorship of Behavioral Science for Disease Prevention and Health Care
Georg-Brauchle-Ring 60/62
80992 München

phone: 089 289 24990
e-mail: nikkil.sudharsanan(at)tum.de
 

Text: Gianna Banke
Photos: "Population and Development Review"/private