We investigated whether social gradient in all-cause mortality in the Czech Republic changed during the postcommunist transition by comparing two cohorts, recruited before and after the political changes in 1989.
Participants (aged 25–64 years) in two population surveys (n=2530 in 1985, n=2294 in 1992) were followed up for mortality for 15 years (1093 and 711 deaths, respectively). Education was classified into attainment categories and years of schooling (both continuous and in tertiles). Cox regression was used to estimate HR of death by educational indices in each cohort over a 15-year follow-up.
All three educational variables were significantly associated with reduced risk of death in both cohorts when men and women were combined; for example, the adjusted HRs of death in the highest versus lowest tertile of years of schooling were 0.65 (95% CI 0.47 to 0.89) in 1985 and 0.67 (95% CI 0.48 to 0.93) in 1992. Adjustment for covariates attenuated the gradients. In sex-specific analysis, the gradient was more pronounced and statistically significant in men. There were no significant interactions between cohort and educational indices.
The educational gradient in mortality did not differ between the two cohorts (1985 vs 1992), suggesting no major increase in educational inequality during the early stage of postcommunist transition. Further research is needed to understand trends in health inequalities during socioeconomic transitions.