Sick leave among people in paid work after age 65: A Swedish population-based study covering 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010

Scand J Public Health. 2018 May;46(3):297-305. doi: 10.1177/1403494817731487. Epub 2017 Sep 15.


Aims: Extending working life into older age groups is discussed in many countries. However, there is no knowledge about how this affects rates of sick leave. The aim of this work was to investigate rates of sick leave among people in paid work after retirement age and if such rates have changed over time.

Methods: Swedish nationwide register data on people aged >65 years and living in Sweden in 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010 were analysed. All people with a sufficiently high work income to be eligible for public sick leave benefits were included. The proportions in paid work and compensated rates of sick leave for people aged 66-70 and ≥71 were analysed by sex, educational level, country of birth, living area, and employment type and sector.

Results: The percentage of people in paid work at ages 66-70 years increased from <10% in 1995 to 24% in 2010 and among those aged ≥71 years from 2.7% in 1995 to 3.5% in 2010. The rates of sick leave among working people aged 66-70 years were 3.3% in 1995 and 2.4% in 2010 and for people aged ≥71 years the rates of sick leave were 2.2% in 1995 and 0.2% in 2010. Women had higher rates of sick leave than men in 2005 and 2010, but lower in 1995 and 2000. In 2010, the rates of sick leave were similar between employees and the self-employed, and higher among employees in the public sector than among employees in the private sector.

Conclusions: Rates of sick leave among workers aged >65 years were lower in 2010 than in 1995, despite much higher rates of labour market participation in 2010.

Keywords: Sick leave; elderly people; extending working life; labour force.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Private Sector / statistics & numerical data
  • Public Sector / statistics & numerical data
  • Registries
  • Sex Factors
  • Sick Leave / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sweden