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J Epidemiol Community Health. 2012 Jun;66(6):e9. doi: 10.1136/jech.2010.130567. Epub 2011 Jul 11.

Intergenerational social mobility and the risk of hypertension.

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Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.



Low socioeconomic status (SES) has been linked to increased risk of hypertension, a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. How the risk is altered by intergenerational social mobility is not well known. The aim of this study is to investigate parental SES, adult SES and the intergenerational social mobility in relation to hypertension risk.


By using data from the Swedish Twin Registry, the authors obtained information about both parental and adult SES and hypertension in 12 030 individuals born from 1926 to 1958. Generalised estimating equations were used to estimate ORs with 95% CIs.


Low parental SES was associated with increased odds of hypertension (OR 1.42, 95% CI 1.14 to 1.76). Low SES in adulthood was associated with increased odds for women but not for men (OR 1.40, 95% CI 1.15 to 1.70 and OR 1.01, 95% CI 0.83 to 1.24, respectively). Compared with the stable low social status group, the upward mobile group had lower odds of hypertension (OR 0.82, 95% CI 0.70 to 0.97). Compared with the stable high social status group, the results for the downward mobile group indicated an increased risk. A co-twin case-control analysis indicated that the results were independent of familial factors.


These findings suggest that the risk of hypertension associated with low parental social status can be modified by social status later in life. Possibly, this could be targeted by public health or political interventions. As parental social status has an impact on later health, such interventions should be introduced early.

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