Soc Sci Med. 2023 Jan;317:115526. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2022.115526. Epub 2022 Nov 9.
BACKGROUND: In Latin America, where climate change and rapid urbanization converge, non-optimal ambient temperatures contribute to excess mortality. However, little is known about area-level characteristics that confer vulnerability to temperature-related mortality.
OBJECTIVES: Explore city-level socioeconomic and demographic characteristics associated with temperature-related mortality in Latin American cities.
METHODS: The dependent variables quantify city-specific associations between temperature and mortality: heat- and cold-related excess death fractions (EDF, or percentages of total deaths attributed to cold/hot temperatures), and the relative mortality risk (RR) associated with 1 °C difference in temperature in 325 cities during 2002-2015. Random effects meta-regressions were used to investigate whether EDFs and RRs associated with heat and cold varied by city-level characteristics, including population size, population density, built-up area, age-standardized mortality rate, poverty, living conditions, educational attainment, income inequality, and residential segregation by education level.
RESULTS: We find limited effect modification of cold-related mortality by city-level demographic and socioeconomic characteristics and several unexpected associations for heat-related mortality. For example, cities in the highest compared to the lowest tertile of income inequality have all-age cold-related excess mortality that is, on average, 3.45 percentage points higher (95% CI: 0.33, 6.56). Higher poverty and higher segregation were also associated with higher cold EDF among those 65 and older. Large, densely populated cities, and cities with high levels of poverty and income inequality experience smaller heat EDFs compared to smaller and less densely populated cities, and cities with little poverty and income inequality.
DISCUSSION: Evidence of effect modification of cold-related mortality in Latin American cities was limited, and unexpected patterns of modification of heat-related mortality were observed. Socioeconomic deprivation may impact cold-related mortality, particularly among the elderly. The findings of higher levels of poverty and income inequality associated with lower heat-related mortality deserve further investigation given the increasing importance of urban adaptation to climate change.