Objective Adverse living standards are associated with poorer child health and safety. This study investigates whether adverse housing and neighbourhood conditions contribute to explain country-level associations between a country's economic level and income inequality and child mortality, specifically injury mortality.
Design Ecological, cross-sectional study.
Setting/subjects Twenty-six European countries were grouped according to two country-level economic measures from Eurostat: gross domestic product (GDP) and income inequality. Adverse country-level housing and neighbourhood conditions were assessed using data from the 2006 European Union Income Social Inclusion and Living Conditions Database (n=203 000).
Main outcome measure Child mortality incidence rates were derived for children aged 1–14 years for all causes, all injuries, road traffic injuries and unintentional injuries excluding road traffic. Linear regression analysis was applied to measure whether housing or neighbourhood conditions have a significant association with child mortality and whether a strain modified the association between GDP/income inequality and mortality.
Results Country-level income inequality and GDP demonstrated a significant association with child mortality for all outcomes. A significant association was also found between housing strain and all child mortality outcomes, but not for neighbourhood strain. Housing strain partially modified the relationship between income inequality and GDP and all child mortality outcomes, with the exception of income inequality and road traffic injury mortality showing full mediation by housing strain.
Conclusions Adverse housing conditions are a likely pathway in the country-level association between income inequality and economic GDP and child injury mortality.
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