Social inequalities and health


Team : Prof. Claudine Burton-Jeangros, Prof Delphine Courvoisier, Stéphane Cullati, Vanessa Fargnoli, Prof Michel Oris, Prof. Adrien Remund, Stefan Sieber, Martina von Arx

Health trajectories and transitions in a life course perspective 

Social inequalities in mortality

The Swiss National Cohort

Social inequalities in cancer screening

Social inequalities in a comparative perspective

Trends in health social inequalities



health trajectories and transitions in a life course perspective

Lead: Prof Claudine Burton-Jeangros

The Institute of Demographic and Socioeconomic Studies hosted during four years the research group IP10 from the NCCR LIVES, supervised by prof Claudine Burton-Jeangros. Between 2011 and 2014, the group examined the impact of socioeconomic and social ressources on individual health trajectorie over aging, and also gender differences and the inter-played interactions between health and work / family trajectories.

Edited book: 

Burton-Jeangros C, Cullati S, Sacker A, Blane D (Ed.) “A Life Course Perspective on Health Trajectories and Transitions”, New York: Springer publisher, collection “Life course research and social policies n°4”, 2015. [PubMed] [Open Access] [NCCR LIVES news]

Peer-reviewed articles: 

1. Burton-Jeangros C & D Zimmermann Sloutskis, “Life satisfaction trajectories of elderly women living in Switzerland. An age-period-cohort analysis”, Ageing and Society, 2016, 36(1): 106-132 [Abstract]

2. Cullati S, “Socioeconomic inequalities in health trajectories in Switzerland: are trajectories diverging as people age?” Sociology of Health and Illness, 2015, 37(5): 745-764. [PubMed]

3. Cullati S, Courvoisier DS, Burton-Jeangros C, “Mental health trajectories and their embeddedness in work and family circumstances: a latent state-trait approach to life-course trajectories”, Sociology of Health and Illness, 2014, 36(7): 1077-1094. [PubMed]

4. Cullati S, “The influence of work-family conflict trajectories on self-rated health trajectories in Switzerland: a life course approach”, Social Science & Medicine, 2014, 113: 23-33. [PubMed]

5. Cullati S, Rousseaux E, Gabadinho A, Courvoisier DS, Burton-Jeangros C, “Factors of change and cumulative factors in self-rated health trajectories: a systematic review”, Advances in Life Course Research, 2014, 19:14-27. [PubMed]

6. Knöpfli B, Cullati S, Courvoisier DS, Burton-Jeangros C, Perrig-Chiello P, “Marital breakup in later adulthood and self-rated health: a cross-sectional survey in Switzerland”, International Journal of Public Health, 2016, 61(3): 357-366 [PubMed] [Open Access]

Journal's special issue: 

1. Cullati S, Burton-Jeangros C, Abel T (Ed.) “Vulnerability in health trajectories: life course perspectives”, Swiss Journal of Sociology, 2018, 44(2). [Table of content - Open Access]


1. Burton-Jeangros C, "Trajectoires de santé, inégalités sociales et parcours de vie", Swiss Academies Communications, 2016, 11(8) [Download]

2. Burton-Jeangros C, "Changements sociaux et trajectoires de santé: pour une approche dynamique des déterminants sociaux de la santé", Bioethica Forum, 2016, 9(4):155-156. [Download]

One PhD dissertation examined factors associated with changes in health trajectories (Cullati) and was conducted in the IP10 group, and another ongoing PhD dissertation (Fargnoli) is examining the experience of HIV patients:


Professional journals: 

1. Fargnoli C, "Mourir du regard des autres", Swiss Aids News, octobre 2017, 3: 8-9 [Download]


One PhD dissertation was conducted on sequence analysis methods:

social inequalities in mortality

Lead: Prof Michel Oris

Three PhD dissertations examined socioeconomic position and social class inequalities in mortality, mortality among migrants, and factors associated with excess mortality of young adults in Switzerland:


Peer-reviewed articles: 

1. Zufferey J, Investigating the migrant mortality advantage at the intersections of social stratification in Switzerland: The role of vulnerabilityDemographic Research, 2016, 34:899-926

2. Remund A, Camarda CG & T Riffe, “A Cause-of-Death Decomposition of Young Adult Excess Mortality”, Demography, 2018, 55(3):957-978 [Pubmed]

3. Zufferey J & M Oris, "Inégalités spatiales de mortalité en Suisse : l’influence des contextes sur les différentiels entre natifs et migrantsEspace, populations, sociétés, 2018, 1-2: 1-23

4. Wanner P, "Inégalités spatiales de mortalité en Suisse. Le rôle de la migration international sur l'espérance de vie de la population des métropoles", Espace, populations, sociétés, 2018, 1-2: 1-22

5. Remund A, “The young adult mortality hump in Switzerland: the role of socioeconomic vulnerability”, Population (forthcoming).

Congress proceedings:

1. Remund A, La surmortalité des jeunes adultes : réalité individuelle ou artefact des inégalités sociales?, in: Pennec, S., Girard, C. and J.-P. Sanderson, C. (eds.), Trajectoires et âges de la vie, Bari : Association internationale des démographes de langue française, 2016

2. Zufferey J, Sélection et adaptation des trajectoires migratoires : quels impacts sur la mortalité des personnes d’origine étrangère en Suisse ? In: Pennec S, Girard C, Sanderson JP(Ed.). Trajectoires et âges de la vie. Bari. [s.l.] : Association internationale des démographes de langue française, 2016



1. Zufferey J, Pourquoi les migrants vivent-ils plus longtemps? : les inégalités face à la mort en Suisse (1990–2008). Bern : Peter Lang, 2017. (Population, famille et société; 24)


Swiss National Cohort

Applicants: Prof Michel Oris, Prof Adrien Remund

Since the early 2000s, the institute had been an active member of the Swiss National Cohort (SNC). This SNF project has undertaken a record linkage of the 1990 and 2000 national censuses, with the death, birth and migration records until 2008. Starting in 2015, the new version of the SNC includes a linkage with the register-based censuses of 2010 to 2013, as well as the structural surveys (2.5% national representative sample), and the death and birth registers up to 2013. This unique project allows studying differential survival of more than 8 million individuals thanks to hundreds of socioeconomic variables. It was the basis of several doctoral theses (see below). To know more about the SNC, see Spoerri et al. 2010.

The institute has also hosted two Small Nested Projects, on the impact of heat waves on mortality and the mediating effect of green spaces (PI: Mathias Lerch), and on the socioeconomic inequalities in young adult excess mortality by causes of death (PI: Adrien Remund).

Social inequalities in cancer screening

Screening is one way to prevent the harmful consequences associated with the occurrence of cancer. In the general population, doing a screening is not a trivial thing and raises questions: is it efficient? Reimbursed? is the test safe? The answers of citizens to these questions are heterogeneous and social distributed. Moreover, people rationales vary according to the type of cancer (breast, colon, cervix, prostate, skin). This research want to highligth the process at the root of social disparities in the practice of testing and how social inequalities in cancer screening change over historical time.

We are collaborating with the Unit of population health of the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG), with the Department of gynecology and obstetric of the HUG, with the Geneva Cancer Registry. Our research have been supported by the Swiss cancer league

Peer-reviewed articles:

1. Fedewa SA, Cullati S, Bouchardy C, Welle I, Burton-Jeangros C, Manor O, Courvoisier DS, Guessous I, “Colorectal Cancer Screening in Switzerland: Cross-Sectional Trends (2007-2012) in Socioeconomic Disparities”, PLoS One, 2015, 10(7): e0131205. [PubMed] [Medias Le Matin] [Medias RTS]

2. Fargnoli V, Petignat P, Burton-Jeangros C, "Dépistage du cancer du col de l'utérus en Suisse romande: des trajectoires contrastées", Revue Médicale Suisse, 2015, 11(479): 1358-61. [PubMed] [Medias GHI]

3. Fargnoli V, Petignat P, Burton-Jeangros C, "To what extent will women accept HPV self-sampling for cervical cancer screening? A qualitative study conducted in Switzerland", International Journal of Women's Health, 2015, 7: 883-888. [Abstract]

4. Guessous I, Cullati S, Fedewa SA, Burton-Jeangros C, Courvoisier DS, Manor O, Bouchardy C, “Prostate Cancer Screening in Switzerland: 20-year Trends and Socioeconomic Disparities”, Preventive Medicine, 2016, 82: 83-91. [PubMed] [Medias Le Matin]

5. Burton-Jeangros C, Cullati S, Manor O, Courvoisier DS, Bouchardy C, Guessous I, “Cervical cancer screening in Switzerland: cross-sectional trends (1992-2012) in social inequalities”, Europen Journal of Public Health, 2016, 27(1): 167-173 [PubMed]  [Open Access]

6. Sandoval JL, Theler JM, Cullati S, Bouchardy C, Manor O, Gaspoz JM, Guessous I, “Introduction of an organised programme and social inequalities in mammography screening: A 22-year population-based study in Geneva, Switzerland”, Preventive Medicine, 2017, 103: 49-55 [PubMed]

7. Cullati S, von Arx M, Courvoisier DS, Sandoval JL, Manor O, Burton-Jeangros C, Bouchardy C, Guessous I, “Organised population-based programmes and change in socioeconomic inequalities in mammography screening: a 1992-2012 nationwide quasi-experimental study”, Preventive Medicine, 2018, 116:19-26 [Pubmed] [Open Access].

health inequalities in a comparative perspective: India and Switzerland


Measurement and distribution of well-being and vulnerability


Applicants: Prof Claudine Burton-Jeangros, Prof Achin Chakraborty (Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata), Stéphane Cullati, Simantini Mukhopadhyay (Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata).

Health inequalities in India and Switzerland are important and strongly related to well-being and vulnerability. At the same time, socioeconomic and cultural differences between both countries are large. This heterogeneity raises issues when examining health inequalities in a cross-country perspective, in particular issues related to the measurement of health status. It also raises questions on whether social factors (education, income, gender, etc.) impact on health and well-being in a similar manner in both countries. First, we plan to examine the degree to which self-reported health measures what it claims and whether culture influences the way people assess their health status (objective 1). Second, we plan to examine health inequalities between both countries by comparing the distribution of health across social groups (education levels, income groups, religious affiliations, etc.). We expect the distribution of health status across socio-economic levels to be different between India and Switzerland. Analyses will be/have been conducted using existing comparable data on self-reported health in both countries.

Funded in July 2015 by the Indo-Swiss Joint Research Programme.

Peer-reviewed articles:

  1. Cullati S, Mukhopadhyay S, Sieber S, Chakraborty A, Burton-Jeangros C, “Is the single self-rated health item reliable in India? A construct validation study”, BMJ Global Healh, 2018, 3:e000856. [Abstract]


 Conference abstract:

  1. Cullati S, Mukhopadhyay S, Burton-Jeangros C, Chakraborty A, “Do the self-rated health item measures the same thing in India and in Switzerland? A cross-cultural construct validation study”, York, United Kingdom, 60th Annual Conference of the Society for Social Medicine, 14-16 September 2016, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2016; 70(Suppl 1):A60-A61. [Abstract]


trends in health social inequalities

Members: Prof. Claudine Burton-Jeangros, Stéphane Cullati, Stefan Sieber, Prof. Adrien Remund

Due to difficult socioeconomic conditions over the last years, social inequalities in health and wellbeing have increased in many high-income countries. In Switzerland, where health inequalities tend to remain limited, it is not clear whether health and wellbeing inequalities are changing or not. Using the data from the European Social Survey, this project aims at examining change in social inequalities in health and well-being over time (2002-2014) in Switzerland and change in the specific contribution of different social determinants in health and well-being inequalities


Conference abstract:

  1. Remund A, Cullati S, Sieber S, Burton-Jeangros C, Oris M, “The influence of education on the process of morbidity extension in Switzerland (1990-2014)”, Rostock, Germany, Statistiche Woche, 19-22 September 2017