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  • Social inequality and COVID-19

Article

Social inequality and COVID-19

Published

This priority project is providing knowledge concerning the importance of social inequality with regard to infection, disease and death from COVID-19 in Norway.

This priority project is providing knowledge concerning the importance of social inequality with regard to infection, disease and death from COVID-19 in Norway.


The social distribution of infection, disease and death caused by COVID-19 is important in order to understand the pandemic and for the management of outbreaks and vaccination by local and central authorities. Detailed analyses that reveal whether COVID-19 affects certain socioeconomic groups harder than others can help to identify important target groups for measures, both within and outside the health service. An understanding of the importance of socioeconomic factors can also enable measures in the management of the pandemic to be tailored.

We already have some knowledge. It is reasonable to assume that low-income groups are somewhat overrepresented amongst those infected with COVID-19 in Norway. However, we know little about which socioeconomic groups are under- or overrepresented with confirmed cases of infection in Norway. As a result of differences between countries in the distribution of infection, ethnic composition, financial inequalities, working conditions and welfare state provision, we need analyses based on Norwegian conditions and data.

About the priority project

This priority project aims to produce knowledge on the role of social inequality for infection, disease and death from COVID-19 in Norway.

Using registry data, we will identify the socioeconomic groups that are under- or overrepresented with confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection, hospital admission and death in Norway. We will examine the importance of gender, age, country of origin, place of residence, financial status, income, educational background, occupation and professional participation. The project will carry out a number of operational, descriptive analyses based on data that is already available.

Within the project, we will also monitor the research being conducted in this field internationally and assess the extent to which the findings are relevant to Norway.

The project will regularly deliver factsheets and presentations which can be used as a basis by decision-making bodies, and in order to provide municipal medical officers with information about vulnerable groups that are particularly exposed in their municipalities. We will also publish important findings in reports and scientific articles.

Data sources

The primary data source for the initiative will be the Emergency preparedness register for COVID-19 (Beredt C19), which receives data from the Norwegian Patient Registry (NPR), the Norwegian Surveillance System for Communicable Diseases (MSIS) and the Norwegian Intensive Care and Pandemic Registry (NiPAR) on a daily basis. This registry has recently been supplemented with information concerning employment, place of work and occupation from the Register of Employers and Employees (AA-registeret), which includes information on occupations. The registry will also be supplemented with the municipality of residence and country of birth of all residents, and eventually information concerning testing, vaccination and general practitioner contact will also be included. It is anticipated that individual socioeconomic data will be incorporated into the registry from early 2021.

The priority project will also cooperate with other projects at the institute as and when appropriate, particularly with regard to coronavirus and medical risk groups. These projects are working to establish more targeted data sources such as CoronaPreg and CoronaReg, and when these become available, they will also be used to answer some of the issues referred to here.

Do you have any questions?

Contact Thor Indseth