Économie et Statistique n° 475-476Edmond Malinvaud (1923-2015) : Career of an exceptional economist - Health and care: care, social determinants, professional consequences
The evolution of social inequalities in smoking over a life cycle: an analysis according to gender and generation
How have social inequalities in the consumption of tobacco in France evolved according to age and generation? To answer this question, data from the Health Barometer survey collected in 2010 from 27,653 people have been used to retrospectively reconstruct the smoking patterns of three birth cohorts (1941-1955, 1956-1970 and 1971-1985). The evolution of smoking inequalities is studied using a comparison of smoking prevalence calculated at every age according to level of education, gender and generation, then using a relative index of inequality estimated using logistic regressions. The results show that after having been more common among the most highly qualified, smoking has declined in these milieus, while it continues to increase among the less highly qualified groups. This analysis also confirms the shift of a generation where the spread of smoking was attributed more to women than men, although prevalence levels are strong today for both genders. Large social inequalities in smoking are apparent at young ages, for all cohorts and for both sexes. For the older cohorts, the inequalities diminish over life, even reversing for women. For the most recent cohort, inequalities remain at a high level throughout the life cycle and tend to increase after age 25 for women. Based on this observation, it may be effective to target smoking prevention policies according to social groups and different ages during life, and particularly to focus efforts on preventing the start of smoking among the least qualified.