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Scand J Public Health. 2013 Jul;41(5):470-8. doi: 10.1177/1403494813482400. Epub 2013 Mar 26.

Socioeconomic differences in disability retirement in Finland: the contribution of ill-health, health behaviours and working conditions.

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Finnish Centre for Pensions, Helsinki, Finland.



Socioeconomic differences in disability retirement are large. In this study, the main interest was to find out the contribution of diseases, self-rated health, health behaviours and working conditions to socioeconomic differences in disability retirement.


The data are from the nationally-representative Health 2000 Survey to which register-based retirement data have been linked. These data include 3674 persons aged 30-62 years who were employed at baseline. Of the participants, 363 ended up in disability retirement during the follow-up period 2000-2009. Cox regression analysis was used to calculate hazard ratios and their 95% confidence intervals.


The risk of all-cause disability retirement was higher among manual workers (HR for men 2.44, 95% CI 1.64-3.63, women 2.33, 1.57-3.44) than upper-grade non-manual employees. Ill-health and physical working conditions contributed to the socioeconomic differences in disability retirement. The importance of physical working conditions was seen in particular among those aged 50 years or over and those in disability retirement due to musculoskeletal diseases. The contribution of self-rated health was stronger in older than younger disability retirees.


Our findings suggest that preventing ill-health and improving working conditions, especially among the lower socioeconomic classes, would help reduce socioeconomic differences in disability retirement.


Disability retirement; health behaviours; mental disorders; socioeconomic differences; somatic diseases; working conditions

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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