Life-course predictors of mortality inequalities




Health Research Council of New Zealand


Peter Davis (Principal Investigator), Barry Milne, Liza Bolton and Jinfeng Zhao


University of Auckland: Andrew Sporle and Alan Lee

University of Otago, Wellington: Tony Blakely and June Atkinson

Statistics New Zealand: Robert Didham and Kirsten Nissen


This project links the New Zealand Longitudinal Census to the New Zealand Census Mortality Study, giving us the unique opportunity to:

  • Assess life-course socioeconomic influences on mortality in NZ.
  • Test whether these are similar or different across ethnic groups.
  • Test whether there are life-course factors that protective against socioeconomic disadvantage.

Research aims

  1. Testing life-course hypotheses: We will assess which of four life-course hypotheses best explain associations between socioeconomic status and mortality in New Zealand: the accumulation hypothesis, the sensitive period hypothesis, the social mobility hypothesis, or the instability hypothesis.
  2. Protective effects of social and cultural capital: We will test whether social and cultural capital protects against socioeconomic risk.
  3. Understanding ethnic disparities: We will assess ethnic disparities and test the extent to which these are explained by the greater experiences of long-term harsh and unstable environments among some ethnic groups (e.g. Māori, Pacific). We will also test whether life-course access to various forms of capital can protect against these exposures.
  4. Testing hypotheses among discordant siblings: We will test the life-course hypotheses among siblings discordant on socioeconomic risk, and will test the extent to which social and cultural capital protects against socioeconomic risk among siblings discordant for social and cultural capital.