Crime associated with higher mortality rates

November 6, 2013

The new study, published in the journal PLOS ONE shows that people with drug-related criminal records in Norway have a mortality rate that can be up to 15 times higher than people with no criminal record. Also, people with a police record of driving under the influence of alcohol have significantly shortened life-spans compared to the overall population.

"Our findings are surprising, because Norway is well-known for its egalitarianism," says IIASA researcher Vegard Skirbekk, who led the study. But in fact, in comparison to other countries, the mortality rate for criminal offenders in Norway was as high or higher than in many other European countries, as well as the United States.

"This study suggests that under the surface of Norway's egalitarian society, stark inequality still exists," he says.

How much of the difference was linked to drug abuse? Previous research had shown that people with criminal records are more likely to have had substance abuse problems, and drug and alcohol abuse is associated with higher mortality rates. But previous studies of criminal records and mortality had not distinguished between drug use and other lifestyle risks in explaining differing mortality rates.

The study confirmed that drug and alcohol use played an important role in the higher among convicted criminals: those people imprisoned once for use or possession of drugs had a relatively mortality risk 8 times higher than those with no criminal record, and those imprisoned more than twice for drug-related offenses had a relative mortality risk of 10 to 13 times higher than those with no criminal record. The differences were higher for women.

However it also showed that even for prisoners who did not have substance abuse problems, the mortality rate was still nearly twice as high compared to the non-offender population.

The new study was the first nationwide study of and mortality in Norway, and one of the largest such studies to date worldwide. Conducted in collaboration with Statistics Norway, it relied on data on crimes, , and alcohol use, and mortality from national administrative registries in Norway, and adjusted for age and socio-economic factors.

Says Skirbekk, "Mortality is an excellent measure of inequality. While other measures such as income and education can be incomplete or subjective, is precise."

Explore further: Teens in child welfare system show higher drug abuse rate

More information: Torborn Skardhamar and Vegard Skirbekk. 2013. Relative mortality among criminals in Norway and the relation to drug and alcohol related offenses. PLOS ONE, 9 November 2013. dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0077967

Related Stories

Teens in child welfare system show higher drug abuse rate

November 4, 2013
Teenagers in the child welfare system are at higher-than-average risk of abusing marijuana, inhalants and other drugs, according to a study in the November issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Having children lowers mortality in people with type 1 diabetes, but for women more than men

September 24, 2013
New research published at this week's annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Barcelona, Spain, shows that having children lowers mortality in people with type 1 diabetes, but for women ...

Death risk higher with mental illness in drug trials

August 30, 2013
(HealthDay)—Adults with psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder who participate in clinical trials of psychopharmacological drugs have a higher mortality risk, in many cases by suicide, ...

How personality affects fertility

August 21, 2013
Men with neurotic personality traits are having fewer children compared to previous generations, according to a new study published in the European Journal of Personality. The study examined the effect of personality on how ...

Opioids associated with highest risk of death

April 17, 2012
People with an opioid addiction had the highest risk of death when compared with rates for alcohol and other drugs, according to a new study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

Study illuminates mortality differences between nondrinkers and light drinkers

July 18, 2013
As a class, people who don't drink at all have a higher mortality risk than light drinkers. But nondrinkers are a diverse bunch, and the reasons people have for abstaining affects their individual mortality risk, in some ...

Recommended for you

Americans misinformed about smoking

August 22, 2017
After voluminous research studies, numerous lawsuits and millions of deaths linked to cigarettes, it might seem likely that Americans now properly understand the risks of smoking.

Women who sexually abuse children are just as harmful to their victims as male abusers

August 21, 2017
"That she might seduce a helpless child into sexplay is unthinkable, and even if she did so, what harm can be done without a penis?"

To reduce postoperative pain, consider sleep—and caffeine

August 18, 2017
Sleep is essential for good mental and physical health, and chronic insufficient sleep increases the risk for several chronic health problems.

Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times

August 18, 2017
Leading pediatrics and sleep associations agree: Teens shouldn't start school so early.

Doctors exploring how to prescribe income security

August 18, 2017
Physicians at St. Michael's Hospital are studying how full-time income support workers hired by health-care clinics can help vulnerable patients or those living in poverty improve their finances and their health.

Schoolchildren who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try tobacco

August 17, 2017
Vaping - or the use of e-cigarettes - is widely accepted as a safer option for people who are already smoking.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.