Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 47, Issue 12, pp 1999–2009 | Cite as

Incidence of disability pension and associations with socio-demographic factors in a Swedish twin cohort

  • Åsa SamuelssonEmail author
  • K. Alexanderson
  • A. Ropponen
  • P. Lichtenstein
  • P. Svedberg
Original Paper



The incidence of disability pension (DP), especially due to mental diagnoses, has increased in many countries, but knowledge of socio-demographic risk factors for DP is limited. Further, the influences of genetics and early-life factors (jointly called familial factors) on these associations remain to be studied. The aims were to study incidence of DP (due to all and mental diagnoses) and associations with socio-demographic factors, and also to establish whether associations differ with DP diagnosis and sex, and are influenced by familial factors.


A prospective cohort study of all twins born in 1928–1958 (n = 52,609) in Sweden was conducted. The twins were followed from 1993 to 2008 regarding DP. Cox proportional hazard models were applied.


The cumulative incidence of DP was 17 %. Of all the DP diagnoses 20 % were mental. Higher age (≥45 years), being a woman or unmarried, and/or living in a semi-urban area were risk factors for DP. Low education, being a blue-collar worker or being self-employed predicted either higher (all diagnoses) or lower (mental diagnoses) risk of DP. Rural areas were associated with DP due to mental diagnoses. The estimates varied for men and women. After adjustment for familial factors the associations of DP with education and marital status were attenuated and no longer significant. Similar results were apparent for DP due to mental diagnoses and socioeconomic status.


Familial factors may select individuals into some of the established risk environments for DP. Studies investigating the causes of DP need to take such confounding into account.


Sick leave Disability pension Mental disorders Twins Incidence 



This study received financial support from Karolinska Institutet: Centre for Health Care Science, the Research Network for Public and International Health and the National Health Care Sciences Postgraduate School; the Swedish Society of Medicine; the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (2007-0830 and 2009-1758); the Swedish Research Council (521-2008-3054); and Magnus Bergvall’s Foundation. The Swedish Twin Registry is supported by the Department of Higher Education, the Swedish Research Council and AstraZeneca. AR was supported by a research grant from the Academy of Finland (#122080).

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Åsa Samuelsson
    • 1
    Email author
  • K. Alexanderson
    • 1
  • A. Ropponen
    • 2
  • P. Lichtenstein
    • 3
  • P. Svedberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Insurance Medicine, Department of Clinical NeuroscienceKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Ergonomics, Institute of BiomedicineUniversity of Eastern FinlandKuopioFinland
  3. 3.Department of Medical Epidemiology and BiostatisticsKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden

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