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Rev Saude Publica. 2018 Oct 25;52Suppl 2(Suppl 2):11s. doi: 10.11606/S1518-8787.2018052000648.

Life course and work ability among older adults: ELSI-Brazil.

[Article in English, Portuguese]

Author information

Fundação Oswaldo Cruz. Instituto René Rachou. Programa de Pós-graduação em Saúde Coletiva. Belo Horizonte, MG, Brasil.
Fundação Oswaldo Cruz. Instituto René Rachou. Núcleo de Estudos em Saúde Pública e Envelhecimento. Belo Horizonte, MG, Brasil.
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. Faculdade de Ciências Econômicas. Centro de Desenvolvimento e Planejamento Regional. Belo Horizonte, MG, Brasil.
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. Faculdade de Ciências Econômicas. Departamento de Sociologia. Belo Horizonte, MG, Brasil.
Fundação Oswaldo Cruz. Instituto de Comunicação e Informação Científica e Tecnológica em Saúde. Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil.
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. Escola de Educação Física, Fisioterapia e Terapia Ocupacional. Programa de Pós-graduação em Ciências da Reabilitação. Belo Horizonte, MG, Brasil.



To examine factors associated with perception of work ability in a nationally representative sample of Brazilians aged 50 years and over.


We used data from 8,903 participants of the baseline survey of the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSI-Brazil). The dependent variable was self-rated work ability (good or very good versus fair, poor, or very poor). Independent variables included factors that operate at the beginning, middle, and current stage of life. Multivariate analysis was based on prevalence ratios (PR) and 95% confidence intervals (95%CI) estimated by Poisson regression.


Good work ability was reported by 49% of \ participants (49.4% among men and 48.6% among women). Results of the multivariate analysis showed that, for both men and women, good work ability showed positive and statistically significant associations (p < 0.05) with good health up to 15 years of age (PR = 1.22 and 1.18 , respectively), educational level ≥ 8 years (PR = 1.19 and 1.21, respectively), and current good self-rated health (PR = 1.88 and 1.94, respectively). Negative associations were observed for current age (PR = 0.99 for each increase of one year among men and women), medical diagnosis of depression (PR = 0.70 for men and PR = 0.87 for women), and having one or more at least chronic diseases (PR = 0.88 for men and 0.91 for women). Only for men, positive associations for the age at which they started working (PR = 1.14 and 1.12 for 11-17 and ≥ 18 years, respectively) and living with a spouse (PR = 1.09) were found.


Work ability in older ages is built over the life course, particularly by the health conditions in childhood and adolescence, age at which men begin working, educational level, and health conditions in older ages. Policies aimed at increasing longevity in the labor market must take these factors into account.

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