Inequalities in Longevity by Education Level in Spain: A Life Satisfaction Approach

  • Aïda Solé-AuróEmail author
  • Mariona Lozano


This paper computes satisfied life expectancy at age 30 (LE30) and at age 65 (LE65) in order to assess inequality in longevity by gender and education level in Spain. We calculate abridged life tables and satisfied LE using conventional life tables and Sullivan’s method. Population and mortality records for 2012 from the Spanish National Institute of Statistics’ (INE) are combined with prevalences of life satisfaction using the 2013 European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions. Satisfaction was defined through a single question about life satisfaction on a scale of 0–10. Results show that the smoothed age-specific prevalences of satisfaction increased with higher education level for both genders. Generally, women tended to report higher levels of satisfaction than men. Spanish women also have a higher LE, regardless of education, but the gender gap is larger among the highest educated. Highly educated women are expected to live 7.3 years more than men at the age of 30. Differences in satisfied LE favor women over men at both ages. The higher the education level is, the largest the satisfied LE. Among the highly educated, women at 30 will live happily 7.5 years more than men. To our knowledge, this is the first study that estimates subjective LE according to education level in Spain. We conclude that even though people in Spain are living longer and healthier than ever before, health inequalities still persist as only those with high education attainments will spend more years feeling satisfied with their lives than unsatisfied.


Satisfied life expectancy Unsatisfied life years Gender differences Education differences Inequality Spain 



This study belongs to the multi-country project “Care, Retirement & Wellbeing of Older People Across Different Welfare Regimes” (CREW). The authors acknowledge funding from the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness (PCIN-2016-005) within the second Joint Programming Initiative “More Years Better Lives” and to the Socio-Demographic Consequences of the Great Recession: Altered Class and Gender Relations? (RECECON) Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, CSO2016-80484-R. In addition, Mariona Lozano’s work was sustained by financial support from the Research Incentive program to tenure-track researchers from the Department of Political and Social Sciences at Pompeu Fabra University.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DemoSoc Research Group, Department of Political and Social SciencesUniversitat Pompeu FabraBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Centre d’Estudis DemogràficsUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterraSpain

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