Background The association between level of education and disability pension (DP) is well known. Earlier studies have investigated the importance of early life factors and work characteristics but not in combination. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between level of education and DP among Swedish middle-aged working men and to what extent such an association can be explained by factors measured in late adolescence and work characteristics in adulthood.
Methods Information about IQ, health-related lifestyle factors, psychiatric and musculoskeletal diagnoses was obtained from the 1969 conscription cohort, consisting of 49 321 Swedish men. Data collected when subjects were 18–20 years of age were combined with national register-based information about level of education, job control and physical strain at work in adulthood, and information about DP between 1991 and 2002.
Results There was a strong graded association between level of education and DP. Those with the lowest level of education had a four times greater probability of having DP as compared with those with the highest level. In multivariable analyses, factors measured in late adolescence, IQ in particular, attenuated the association more than work-related characteristics in adulthood.
Conclusions The authors found an association between level of education and DP among Swedish middle-aged working men. A large part of the association was explained by factors measured in late adolescence, IQ in particular, and somewhat less by work characteristics measured in adulthood. Level of education remained as a significant predictor of DP in middle age after full adjustment.
- disability pension
- cognitive ability
- work characteristics
- child health
- health behaviour
- occupational health
- health promotion
- low back pain
- physical activity
- ischaemic heart disease
- mental health
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Funding This study was supported by the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (Project No. 2008-0907).
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval Karolinska Institutet.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.