Health inequalities in the European Union: an empirical analysis of the dynamics of regional differences

Laia Maynou, Marc Saez*, Jordi Bacaria, Guillem Lopez-Casasnovas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


In a panel setting, we analyse the speed of (beta) convergence of (cause-specific) mortality and life expectancy at birth in EU countries between 1995 and 2009. Our contribution is threefold. First, in contrast to earlier literature, we allow the convergence rate to vary, and thereby uncover significant differences in the speed of convergence across time and regions. Second, we control for spatial correlations across regions. Third, we estimate convergence among regions, rather than countries, and thereby highlight noteworthy variations within a country. Although we find (beta) convergence on average, we also identify significant differences in the catching-up process across both time and regions. Moreover, we use the coefficient of variation to measure the dynamics of dispersion levels of mortality and life expectancy (sigma convergence) and, surprisingly, find no reduction, on average, in dispersion levels. Consequently, if the reduction of dispersion is the ultimate measure of convergence, then, to the best of our knowledge, our study is the first that shows a lack of convergence in health across EU regions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)543-559
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Health Economics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2014


  • Bayesian models
  • Beta convergence
  • Catching-up
  • Health convergence
  • Integrated nested Laplace approximation
  • Sigma convergence
  • Spatiotemporal modelling


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