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Although measles is endemic throughout the World Health Organization European Region, few studies have analysed socioeconomic inequalities and spatiotemporal variations in the disease’s incidence.


To study the association between socioeconomic deprivation and measles incidence in Germany, while considering relevant demographic, spatial and temporal factors.


We conducted a longitudinal small-area analysis using nationally representative linked data in 401 districts (2001–2017). We used spatiotemporal Bayesian regression models to assess the potential effect of area deprivation on measles incidence, adjusted for demographic and geographical factors, as well as spatial and temporal effects. We estimated risk ratios (RR) for deprivation quintiles (Q1–Q5), and district-specific adjusted relative risks (ARR) to assess the area-level risk profile of measles in Germany.


The risk of measles incidence in areas with lowest deprivation quintile (Q1) was 1.58 times higher (95% credible interval (CrI): 1.32–2.00) than in those with highest deprivation (Q5). Areas with medium-low (Q2), medium (Q3) and medium-high deprivation (Q4) had higher adjusted risks of measles relative to areas with highest deprivation (Q5) (RR: 1.23, 95%CrI: 0.99–1.51; 1.05, 95%CrI: 0.87–1.26 and 1.23, 95%CrI: 1.05–1.43, respectively). We identified 54 districts at medium-high risk for measles (ARR > 2) in Germany, of which 22 were at high risk (ARR > 3).


Socioeconomic deprivation in Germany, one of Europe’s most populated countries, is inversely associated with measles incidence. This association persists after demographic and spatiotemporal factors are considered. The social, spatial and temporal patterns of elevated risk require targeted public health action and policy to address the complexity underlying measles epidemiology.


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