Farmers are on average over 2.3 times more likely to die of circulatory disease such as a heart attack than those working as ‘employers and managers’, according to research by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

The ESRI found that farmers have the highest standardised mortality rate (SMR) for circulatory disease in the Irish population. The standardised mortality rate (SMR) is the ratio of the number of deaths observed in a population over a given period to the number that would be expected over the same period if the study population had the same age-specific rates as the standard population.

The ESRI published the analysis in a report, Unequal Chances? Inequalities in Mortality in Ireland, on Thursday. The research institute compared mortality rates across a number of demographics including socio-economic status and occupation.

Respiratory disease

Farmers are also more likely to die from respiratory diseases, according to the ESRI.

It found that, excluding those in ‘unknown’ occupations, there are clear trends when it comes to the standardised mortality rate across occupations for respiratory disease. ‘Employers and managers’ and ‘higher and lower professional’ groups have the lowest SMRs, with average values below 155 per 100,000 of populations while ‘farmers’ and ‘agricultural workers’ have the highest SMR values of 327 per 100,000 and 426 per 100,000.

While mortality rates have improved since 2000, compared to those working as employers and managers, agricultural workers are still three times more likely to die of respiratory diseases, the ESRI found.

Other deaths

Even when comparing SMRs for "all other kinds of death", farmers and agricultural workers fair worse than others.

Employers and managers and higher and lower professionals but also ‘semi-skilled manual’ workers have the lowest SMRs, with average values ranging from 185 to 214 per 100,000. While at the opposite end of the range, farmers and agricultural workers have the highest average values at 393 and 524 per 100,000 cases.

“By far 'agricultural workers' have the highest relative risk ratio, as they are almost three times more likely to die of ‘all other causes’ than ‘employers and managers’,” the ESRI said in its report.

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