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.

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.



The second course of the IDEAR Early Career Training Programme will take place in Stockholm, at the Karolinska Institutet, 14-16 November 2018. It will run over three intensive days, including Wednesday and Thursday evenings. We will start at 8:30 am on Wednesday, meaning that you will need to arrive in Stockholm on Tuesday 13 November.

This course will introduce participants to the types of register data available in different countries, how to work with them and what the pros and cons are of this sort of data. We will also handle statistical challenges of data on sickness absence, return to work, disability pension and old-age pension.


  • Kristina Alexanderson (KA), professor, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
  • Emilie Friberg, PhD, researcher, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
  • Ellenor Mittendorfer Rutz, PhD, ass prof
  • Kerstin Nilsson, statistician
  • Magnus Stenbeck, PhD, ass prof
  • Pia Svedberg, PhD, ass prof, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
  • Others to be confirmed.

Course management group

Target group

Junior members of the IDEAR network, included in the Early Career Training Program. You do not need to have worked with register data before, rather, the training school is to inspire such work and to get a better understanding of how results from such studies can be interpreted.


Karolinska Institutet, Campus Solna, Stockholm, Sweden.


All have read six studies based on register data before the course– they will be sent to registered participants ten days before course starts.

Participants need to arrive in Stockholm Tuesday 13 November, as we start early on Wednesday morning (8:30 am).

Aims of the Training school are to help young researchers to develop competence regarding use of registers in aging research and to interpret such results. Another aim is to promote networking and collaborations between junior researchers in this research area. This means that we encourage the participants to also participate in the following training courses that will be arranged by IDEAR.


ASAP to Emilie Friberg

Course – 11th-13th March 2019 on causal inference: drawing causal conclusions from epidemiological studies

April 25, 2018

Causal inference is the ultimate goal of most epidemiological studies based on observational data. This course gives an applied introduction to modern methods of causal inference that may help answer casual questions. The course covers a general discussion on how to phrase causal questions and critically evaluate the underlying assumptions. The course will also provide […]

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Physically demanding & dangerous work associated with fewer years of life in good health

October 21, 2016

A new study carried out within the IDEAR consortium has demonstrated differences in healthy life expectancy in relation to a range of physical working conditions. Researchers followed 13393 men from the French GAZEL occupational cohort over several years. They examined whether strenuous and dangerous working conditions as well as night shift work were associated with […]

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Healthy lifestyles add life to years: New research shows that people aged 50-75 years who have a healthy lifestyle have more years in good health

September 13, 2016

An international study carried out within the IDEAR network has provided new evidence about the beneficial role of healthy lifestyles on aging. Researchers followed 74 000 people aged 50 and older from Finland, Sweden, England and France over several years. Between the ages of 50 and 75, people who did not smoke, who were physically active […]

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Determinants of healthy ageing in work and retirement: Preliminary findings presented at the ERA-AGE conference in London

August 19, 2016

On 10th November 2015, preliminary findings from the IDEAR network’s JCRA project ‘Retirement and Heathy Ageing: Determinants of healthy ageing in work and retirement’ were presented at the ERA-AGE conference in London, along with findings from other related projects across Europe and in Canada. This was the first time that data on socioeconomic differences in […]

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Register for the May 2015 workshop

April 9, 2015

Invitations to the May workshop has been sent out to all invitees. If you would like to attend the workshop in Stockholm May 17-19, please register ASAP.

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Register for the BRICKS Horizon 2020 Meeting 2014

November 13, 2013

Registration for the BRICKS Horizon 2020 Meeting is now open. The maximum number of attendees is 25 persons, registration is on first come, first served basis. More information and registration is available at this link.

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Follow the IDEAR twitter

April 22, 2013

IDEAR uses Twitter for fast, day-to-day communication and to give a snapshot image of what is going on in ageing research in Europe. If you’d like to, you can follow us @IDEARNetwork  

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