Despite recent increases in life expectancy, inequalities in mortality in Scotland have been widening. Previous research has suggested that one of the potential drivers of geographical inequalities in health is the process of selective migration. Although support for the effect of selective migration on widening geographic inequalities in health has been mixed, several studies have shown that people in good health move away from deprived areas while people in poor health move towards more deprived areas. In this paper, we examine mortality rates in Scotland by area deprivation and population mobility. Previous research in Scotland has shown that the relationship between population mobility and migration disappears once deprivation is accounted for. However, the authors measure population mobility over a longer time period than we do here and at a different geographical level. We consider small area population mobility on the basis of moves made in the year prior to the 2001 Scottish census. Areas were classified as one of four types: decreasing, increasing or stable (with high or low turnover). Mortality rates, calculated for the period 2000–2002, were found to be highest in deprived areas that had declined in population over the previous year. In the most deprived quintile, the causes of death contributing disproportionately to the excess mortality in decreasing areas were causes linked to alcohol and drug use, suicides and assault. Focussing on those individuals in the most deprived areas who live in areas that are declining in population could help to reduce widening inequalities for these causes of death. This work shows the extent to which population migration can influence small areas over a relatively short time period and gives some insight into potential factors, not measured by traditional indices of area level deprivation, which may lead to differences in the health status of areas
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