Occupational inequality in health expectancy in Denmark

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Background: The pension age in Denmark is adjusted in line with projected increasing life expectancy without taking health differentials between occupational groups into account. The purpose was to study occupational disparities in partial life expectancy and health expectancy between the ages of 50 and 75. Methods: Register data on occupation and mortality were combined with data from the Danish part of Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe in 2010-2014 (N=3179). Expected lifetime without and with activity limitations and without and with long-term illness was estimated by Sullivan's method and comparisons made between four occupational groups. Results: We found clear differences between occupational groups. Expected lifetime without activity limitations between the ages of 50 and 75 was about 4.5 years longer for men and women in high skilled white-collar occupations than for men and women in low skilled blue-collar occupations. Men in high skilled blue-collar and low skilled white-collar occupations could expect 2.3 and 3.8 years shorter lifetimes without activity limitations, respectively, than men in high skilled white-collar occupations. For women in low skilled white-collar occupations, lifetime without activity limitations was 2.6 years shorter than for women in high skilled white-collar occupations. Due to few observations, no results were obtained for women in the high skilled blue-collar group. The social gradient was also significant when health was measured by years without long-term illness. Conclusions: The results support implementation of a flexible pension scheme to take into account the health differentials between occupational groups.

Original languageEnglish
Book seriesScandinavian Journal of Public Health
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Nov 2019

ID: 231193388