The relation between heat wave mortality and living arrangements of the elderly in the Netherlands

Joop Garssen, Statistics Netherlands
Carel Harmsen, Statistics Netherlands
Anton Kunst, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam

Excess mortality during heat waves has received increasing attention in recent years. The heat wave of 2003, that reportedly led to about 15 thousand excess deaths in France, triggered various preventive activities in France as well as in other European countries. Earlier reseach has indicated that excess mortality of the elderly in the Netherlands was stronger among the institutional than among the non-institutional population. The main question that we aim to answer in our paper concerns the relation between heat wave mortality and living arrangements. Are only (or mostly) the elderly in nursing homes, in a supposedly frailer state of health, at an increased risk, or also elderly persons who live alone in a private household? Is there a clear difference in mortality risk between one and two person private households? As it is assumed that lower educated and poorly housed persons are at a relatively high risk, we will also attempt to assess the relationship between socio-economic status and heat-related mortality, using real estate value as a proxy for socio-economic status. We expect to demonstrate an increased risk of mortality for elderly persons and persons with a lower socio-economic status who are living alone. This increased risk should be mainly attributable to cardiovascular mortality, the cause of death that most strongly correlates with heat-related mortality.

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Presented in Session 58: Socio-Economic Differences in Disability