Sickness absence rates among over-65s have decreased in Sweden despite increasing work participation

Despite increasing work participation over recent decades, sickness absence rates among over-65s have decreased in Sweden.

Two new studies carried out within the IDEAR consortium have investigated sickness absence rates among those in paid work over the age of 65 in Sweden, something not studied before, in any country. We used nationwide register data from Statistics Sweden to construct four cohorts of everybody aged >65 years and living in Sweden in 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010. The 2010 cohort contained 1 588 314 people, the 2005 cohort contained 1 427 499 people, the 2000 cohort contained 1 354 224 people and the 1995 cohort contained 1 278 870 people.

The first study investigated rates of the cohorts with an income from paid work, and rates of sickness absence >14 days among those with an income from paid work. We found that paid work participation increased drastically over time, from less than 10% in the cohort of 1995 to 24% in the cohort of 2010 among those aged 66-70, and from 2.7% to 3.5% among those aged >70 years. Despite this, rates of sickness absence for more than 14 days among those in paid work declined from 3.3% in 1995 to 2.5% in 2010 among those aged 66-70, and from 2.2% to 0.2% among those aged over 70. The opposite could have been expected, considering the healthy worker selection into paid work among people over 65 years of age.

The second study was two longitudinal cohort studies, including all those who turned 65 during either 2000 or 2005, followed from 1995 to 2010. We found that those who were in paid work after age 65 had more sickness absence days per year both before and after age 65 in the 2005 cohort than in the 2000 cohort. The study also found that sociodemographic differences in sickness absence among those in paid work after age 65 were larger before age 65 than after, but that there were greater sociodemographic differences in sick leave after the age of 65 years in the 2005 cohort than in the 2000 cohort.

The full studies can be found open to all here:

Farrants K, Marklund S, Kjeldgård L, Head J & Alexanderson K. 2017. Sick leave among individuals in paid work after age 65; a Swedish population-based study covering 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2010. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health. 2018;46:297-305. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1403494817731487

Farrants K, Marklund S, Kjeldgård L, Head J & Alexanderson K. 2017. Sick leave before and after the age of 65 among those in paid work in Sweden in 2000 or 2005: a register-based cohort study. Journal of International Medical Research 46(2):564-577. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0300060517734744

 

 

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