Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Lund University, Department of Economics

No 2011:21: Explaining socioeconomic inequalities in drug utilization for Sweden 2005-2006: Evidence from linked survey and register data

Martin Nordin (), Margareta Dackehag () and Ulf-G Gerdtham ()
Additional contact information
Martin Nordin: Department of Economics, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economics, School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Box 7082, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden
Margareta Dackehag: Department of Economics, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economics, School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Box 7082, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden
Ulf-G Gerdtham: Department of Economics, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economics, School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Box 7082, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: This study uses the Swedish register of prescribed drugs, merged with the Survey of Living Conditions (the ULF), to analyze the socioeconomic gradient in drug utilization. It finds a significant education gradient (but no income gradient) in individual drug utilization. Whereas the education gradient for men is quantitative in its orientation (education affects number of drugs used), the gradient for women is both quantitative and qualitative (education affects mean cost of drugs). For males, but not as clearly for females, the study finds that the education gradient is weaker for more health-related drugs but stronger for more expensive drugs. Our results indicate that the main reason for the education gradient in drug utilization is doctors’ behaviour rather than compliance with medication and affordability of drugs.

Keywords: health inequality; healthcare; drug utilization; income; education

JEL-codes: D30; D31; I10; I12

26 pages, June 20, 2011

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