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Open Access Research article

Sex, age, deprivation and patterns in life expectancy in Quebec, Canada: a population-based study

Nathalie Auger123*, Carolyne Alix1, Geng Zang2 and Mark Daniel234

Author affiliations

1 Études et analyses de l'état de santé de la population, Institut national de santé publique du Québec, Montréal, Québec, Canada

2 Research Centre of the University of Montreal Hospital Centre, Montréal, Québec, Canada

3 Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada

4 School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2010, 10:161  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-161

Published: 25 March 2010



Little research has evaluated disparities in life expectancy according to material deprivation taking into account differences across the lifespan between men and women. This study investigated age- and sex-specific life expectancy differentials related to area-level material deprivation for the province of Québec, Canada from 1989-2004.


Age- and sex-specific life expectancy across the lifespan was calculated for three periods (1989-1992, 1995-1998, and 2001-2004) for the entire Québec population residing in 162 community groupings ranked according to decile of material deprivation. Absolute and relative measures were calculated to summarize differences between the most and least deprived deciles.


Life expectancy differentials between the most and least deprived deciles were greatest for men. Over time, male differentials increased for age 20 or more, with little change occurring at younger ages. For women, differentials increased across the lifespan and were comparable to men at advanced ages. Despite gains in life expectancy among men relative to women, differentials between men and women were greater for most deprived relative to least deprived deciles.


Similar to the US, differentials in life expectancy associated with area-level material deprivation increased steadily in Québec from 1989-2004 for males and females of all ages. Differentials were comparable between men and women at advanced ages. Previous research indicating that life expectancy differentials between most and least deprived areas are greater in men may be due to a focus on younger age groups.