How inequality kills

Two centuries of social and spatial disparities in all-cause and cause-specific mortality
in Belgium (1800-2025)


INEQKILL is a four-year interdisciplinary research project that focuses on a crucial dimension of inequality in society, the disparity in death, coined ‘ultimate inequality’.

The COVID-19 pandemic has incited renewed interest into infectious diseases as potential drivers of social and spatial mortality inequalities, alongside life-style disease (cardiovascular diseases and cancer) and external causes of death.

The project aims at generating new knowledge and insights into the origin and development of inequalities in all-cause and cause-specific mortality in Belgium. It tackles the long-term evolution of mortality inequalities (1800-2025) using an interdisciplinary approach based on expertise from demography, social epidemiology, medical geography and socioeconomic history.

INEQKILL addresses the following questions:

  • How have social and spatial differences in cause-specific mortality evolved in the context of rising living standards, improved social security and medical progress?
  • How did these mortality patterns vary according to age, gender and migration status? And which factors can explain these?

Besides using Belgium’s rich and unique statistical heritage, the project takes advantage of state-of-the-art geographic information systems and statistical techniques. Integrating micro and macro level data, linking past and present, and engaging with the wider public, INEQKILL embodies a major and original initiative in enhancing our understanding of mortality inequalities in Belgium and beyond.

INEQKILL starts in October 2022 and is an EOS (Excellence Of Science) Project financed by the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) and Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS). It is a collaboration between Interface Demography (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), Quetelet Center for Quantitative Historical Research (Ghent University), Center for Demographic Research (Université Catholique de Louvain) and Earth and Life Institute (Université Catholique de Louvain).

The aristocrat and death.
(Wellcome Collection)