Social inequalities in Ageing (SIA); health, care and institutional reforms in the Nordic welfare model

To meet the challenge of population ageing and social inequalities in late life health, it is of utmost importance to map out the life course predictors of healthy ageing.

The Nordic populations are ageing. The older segments of the populations are increasing both in terms of absolute numbers and as proportions of the populations. While the dramatic increase in life expectancy experienced throughout the past 150 years are one of the most remarkable achievements of human history, the ageing population, nevertheless, comprise a serious challenge to the Nordic welfare model as we know it. 

Old age is often accompanied by poor health and functional disabilities. Thus, a growing proportion of older people in the population is likely to put a strain on the health and social care systems. This development, in turn, begs the question on whether the Nordic countries can afford to maintain their universal provision of largely tax-funded, welfare programmes. Moreover, health and survival in old age is unequally distributed throughout the populations. Women tend to have poorer health than men but yet outlive them. Individuals with low education, low income, and manual workers are substantially more likely to have health problems in old age and tend to die at earlier ages than individuals with more education, higher incomes, and backgrounds as non-manual workers. Similarly, with some notable exceptions, immigrants tend to have more health problems than those born in the Nordic countries. 

This research programme rests on two pillars, one concerning life course influences, trends and trajectories in health and functioning, and the other concerning welfare state changes and inequality impacts of recent social reforms. To meet the challenge of population ageing and social inequalities in late life health, it is of utmost importance to map out the life course predictors of healthy ageing. Other urgent research questions springs from the intersection between ageing populations and welfare institutions. That is, how do these institutions meet the needs of older adults, and does the increased focus on the individual and market inspired solutions lead to increasing or new social inequalities? 

Our research group consists of researchers with a wide range of academic backgrounds, from all of the Nordic countries. We will analyse these questions using a range of high quality Nordic databases, including both survey data and data from administrative registries. The results from the research programme concern one of the most pressing issues in welfare research today and, thus, have the potential to inform and influence future social policy. 

Scientific Publications

Why is the gender gap in life expectancy decreasing? The impact of age- and cause-specific mortality in Sweden 1997–2014

Published: 2018-04-13
Author: Louise Sundberg, Neda Agahi, Johan Fritzell, Stefan Fors.

Social class and infirmity. The role of social class over the life-course

Published: 2018-04-01
Author: Carin Lennartsson, Harpa Sif Eyjólfsdóttir, Roger Keller Celeste, Johan Fritzell.

Social pathways to health: On the mediating role of the social network in the relation between socio-economic position and health

Published: 2017-12-01
Author: Marja Aartsen, Marijke Veenstra, Thomas Hansen.

Does use of long-term care differ between occupational classes among the oldest old? Vitality 90 + Study

Published: 2017-10-28
Author: Linda Enroth, Mari Aaltonen, Jani Raitanen, Lily Nosraty, Marja Jylhä.

Smoking and Physical Inactivity as Predictors of Mobility Impairment During Late Life: Exploring Differential Vulnerability Across Education Level in Sweden

Published: 2016-07-22
Author: Neda Agahi, Stefan Fors, Johan Fritzell, Benjamin A. Shaw.

The Association of Levels of and Decline in Grip Strength in Old Age with Trajectories of Life Course Occupational Position

Published: 2016-05-27
Author: Hannes Kröger, Johan Fritzell, Rasmus Hoffmann.

Facts about the project

Project number: 74637

Project leader

Johan Fritzell

Duration
2015-2019