Enduring inequality: educational disparities in health among the oldest old in Sweden 1992-2011

Int J Public Health. 2015 Jan;60(1):91-8. doi: 10.1007/s00038-014-0621-3. Epub 2014 Nov 15.


Objectives: Although the past two decades have involved changes in the living conditions of the oldest old in Sweden, little is known about how health inequalities have developed in this group during the period. This study explores the educational disparities in a wide range of health outcomes among the oldest old in Sweden between 1992 and 2011.

Methods: The study uses the repeated cross-sectional design of the SWEOLD survey, a nationally representative survey of the oldest old in Sweden with comparable data from 1992, 2002, and 2011. The development of educational disparities in health was tracked across the three waves.

Results: The results show that although the prevalence of most health problems increased during the period, the prevalence of disability in activities of daily living decreased. Despite these changes, educational disparities in health remained largely unaffected.

Conclusions: The results of the study suggest that the association between education and health is remarkably robust. It prevailed into the oldest age groups, was consistently found for a wide range of health problems, and tended to be stable over extended periods of time.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disabled Persons / history*
  • Disabled Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status*
  • Healthcare Disparities / history*
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Distribution
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Sweden