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Scand J Public Health. 2018 May;46(3):417-424. doi: 10.1177/1403494817715845. Epub 2017 Jul 4.

The gender gap in accrued pension rights - an indicator of women's accumulated disadvantage over the course of working life. The Hordaland Health Study (HUSK).

Author information

1 Division of Mental and Physical Health, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Bergen, Norway.
2 Center for Alcohol & Drug Research, Stavanger University Hospital, Stavanger, Norway.
3 Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
4 Department of Psychosocial Sciences, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.
6 Department of Research & Innovation, Helse Fonna HF, Haugesund, Norway.
5 Regional Centre for Child and Youth Mental Health and Child Welfare, Uni Research Health, Bergen, Norway.
7 Department of Public Health, University of Turku and Turku University Hospital, Finland.
8 Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, University of Bergen, Norway.
9 Research Unit for General Practice, Uni Health Research, Bergen, Norway.



Economic gender equality is one of the goals of the Nordic Welfare states. Despite this, there is a considerable gender gap in pensionable income in the European Union, and an unmet need for measures that absorb more of the complexity associated with accumulated (dis)advantages across gender and population groups. The aims of the present study were to examine the gender difference in association between average earned pension points and 1) education and 2) current occupational prestige, and to discuss pension points as a possible indicator of accumulated disadvantages.


We linked a community-based survey, the Hordaland Health study (HUSK), to the national register of insurance benefits (FD-trygd). This made it possible to trace gendered patterns of economic (dis)advantages associated with educational level, career development and gainful work over the life course for 17,275 individuals.


We found profound differences in earned accrued pension rights between men and women across socioeconomic strata, and a significant interaction between pension rights and gender in the association with education and occupational prestige. Our findings indicate that men, as a group, may have lower educational attainment and occupational prestige than women, and still earn more pension points throughout their career. These differences place women at risk for future economic strain and deprivation over and above their similarly educated and positioned male counterparts.


We suggest that accrued pension rights may be a relevant measure of accumulated (dis)advantages over the course of working life, and a useful indicator when gender equality is measured and discussed.


accumulated disadvantages; education; gender differences; occupation; pensionable income; working life

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