Introduction: The aim was to identify socio-economic risk indicators among the Danish work force (aged 18 to 59) for being granted disability pension.
Material and methods: A closed cohort study based on a random 10% sample of the Danish workforce defined in 1994 and followed in registers from 1995 to 98 for disability pension. The study population included 254,905 persons. Citizens in Denmark have a unique personal identification number so socio-economic data at individual levels from Statistics Denmark were linked with the Disability Pension Registry. All persons but 39 could be traced throughout the study or until the event of disability pension, emigration or death. Cox regression was used to calculate the hazard rate ratio of being granted disability pension.
Results: 4443 persons were granted disability pension. The risk of being granted disability pension increased significantly with low social class. Comparing unskilled workers to managers showed that workers had 1.6 (95% confidence interval: 1.4-1.9) times greater risk of disability pension. For female unskilled workers the risk was 1.9 (1.6-2.2). Men with seven years' schooling had 3.1 (2.3-4.3) times higher risk of disability pension than men with a university degree, and women with seven years' schooling had 3.8 (2.5-5.8) greater risk. Having been on sick leave more than 13 weeks compared to sick leave less than four weeks increased the risk by 11.5 (10.1-13.1) for men and 11.2 (9.9-12.8) for women. High age, unemployment, living alone and receiving social benefits were also risk indicators for disability pension.
Discussion: The study identified reliable estimates of socioeconomic risk indicators, e.g. low level of education, low social class, and unemployment for leaving the workforce with disability pension.