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Unemployment, intragenerational social mobility and mortality in Finland: heterogeneity by age and economic context
  1. Caroline Uggla,
  2. Sunnee Billingsley
  1. Stockholm University Demography Unit, Department of Sociology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Dr Caroline Uggla, Stockholm University Demography Unit, Department of Sociology, Stockholm University, Stockholm 106 91, Sweden; caroline.uggla{at}


Background We explore how mortality is related to unemployment and intragenerational social mobility in Finland. Unemployment and social mobility are two labour market experiences that are largely studied separately, despite the fact that selection processes into unemployment and downward mobility are intertwined. Because both causal and health selection mechanisms may vary depending on the timing of these experiences, we consider heterogeneity by age and economic context.

Methods We run discrete time event history analysis for death (at age 30–75 years) in two periods (economic recession and growth) and analyse younger and older individuals and men and women separately.

Results The odds of mortality were particularly high for individuals experiencing unemployment and when unemployment occurred during economic growth (OR ranging between 1.39 and 2.77). Younger men had high odds of mortality following unemployment (OR 1.86–2.77). In contrast, downward mobility was associated with higher odds of mortality only among older men and women and only during economic growth. The benefits of upward mobility were experienced mainly by younger men (OR ranging between 0.86 and 0.87) and were not experienced by women at all.

Conclusion Results show that when in an individual’s life and the economic cycle unemployment and social mobility occur matters for whether these experiences are associated with mortality.

  • mortality
  • unemployment
  • inequalities
  • life course epidemiology
  • social class

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  • Contributors SB conceived the original idea. Both authors developed the study design. CU performed the analyses. Both authors wrote the paper.

  • Funding This work was supported by the Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland (Decision Number: 293103) for the research consortium Tackling Inequality in Time of Austerity (TITA) and the Swedish Research Council for health, working life and welfare (grant 2012-01261).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement The article is based on Finnish register data, which we do not have the right to distribute or make public.