Early life conditions, partnership histories, and mortality risk for Swedish men and women born 1915-1929

Soc Sci Med. 2014 May;108:60-7. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.02.036. Epub 2014 Feb 24.


This paper investigates the relationship between early life biological and social factors, partnership history, and mortality risk. Mortality risks for Swedish men and women over age 50 in the Uppsala Birth Cohort born 1915-1929 were estimated using survival analysis. Relative mortality risk was evaluated through nested multiplicative Gompertz models for 4348 men and 3331 women, followed from age 50 to the end of 2010. Being born to an unmarried mother was associated with higher mortality risk in later life for men and women, and relative to married individuals, being unmarried after age 50 was associated with elevated mortality risk. Single women and divorced men were the highest risk groups, and women were negatively impacted by a previous divorce or widowhood, while men were not. Both genders showed direct effects of early life variables on later life mortality and were vulnerable if unmarried in later life. However, in this study, previous marital disruptions appeared to have more (negative) meaning in the long-term for women.

Keywords: Early life conditions; Life course; Marital transitions; Mortality risk; Partnership history; Survival analysis; Sweden.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Birth Order
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marital Status / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Social Class
  • Survival Analysis
  • Sweden / epidemiology