Socioeconomic inequalities in drug utilization for Sweden: evidence from linked survey and register data

Soc Sci Med. 2013 Jan;77:106-17. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.11.013. Epub 2012 Nov 22.


This study analyzes the socioeconomic gradient in drug utilization. We use The Swedish Prescribed Drug Register, merged with the Survey of Living Conditions (the ULF), and the study sample consists of 8138 individuals. We find a positive education gradient (but no income gradient) in drug utilization, after controlling for health indicators. Whereas high-educated men use a larger number of drugs, high-educated women use both a larger number of drugs and more expensive drugs. For males, but not as clearly for females, we find that the education gradient is weaker for more health-related drugs but stronger for more expensive drugs. We conclude that the main reason for the education gradient in drug utilization is doctors' behaviour rather than compliance with medication and affordability of drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Healthcare Disparities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Registries
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Sweden
  • Young Adult