This study assesses the associations between annual measures of economic hardship (EH) across 22 years of adulthood and objective measures of early ageing in a Danish late-middle-aged population (N = 5575). EH (years < 60% of the National median equivalized household disposable income) was experienced by 18% during 1987–2008. Four or more years in EH (reference = null years in EH) was related to poorer physical capability (chair rise: − 1.49 counts/30 s [95% confidence interval (CI) − 2.36, − 0.61], hand grip strength: − 1.22 kg [95% CI − 2.38, − 0.07], jump height: − 1.67 cm [95% CI − 2.44, − 0.91] and balance: 18% [95% CI 9, 28]), poorer cognitive function (Intelligenz-Struktur-Test: − 1.50 points [95% CI − 2.89, − 0.12]) and higher inflammatory levels (C-reactive protein: 22% [95% CI 4, 44], and Interleukin-6: 23% [95% CI 10, 39]). Comparing four EH trajectories, people with a high versus low probability of EH over time had poorer physical capability (chair rise: − 1.70 counts/30 s [95% CI − 3.38, − 0.01], grip: − 4.33 kg [95% CI − 6.50, − 2.16], jump: − 1.68 cm [95% CI − 3.12, − 0.25] and balance: 31% [95% CI 12, 52]). No associations were observed with tumour necrosis factor-α. Results were adjusted for sex, age, long-term parental unemployment/financial problems, education, baseline income and cohort. This study suggested EH for four or more years to be associated with poorer physical capability, cognitive function and increased inflammatory levels in midlife. High probability of EH across adulthood was similarly related to poorer physical capability and CRP, but not cognitive function and the remaining inflammatory markers. In conclusion, preventive initiatives focusing on reducing the burden of sustained economic hardship may lead to increased healthy ageing.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Ahnquist J, Fredlund P, Wamala SP (2007) Is cumulative exposure to economic hardships more harzardous to women’s health than men’s? a 16-year follow-up study of the Swedish survey of living conditions. J Epidemiol Community Heal 61:331–336. https://doi.org/10.1136/jech.2006.049395
Al Hazzouri AZ, Elfassy T, Sidney S et al (2017) Sustained economic hardship and cognitive function: the coronary artery risk development in young adults study. Am J Prev Med 52:1–9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2016.08.009
Amthauer R, Brocke B, Liepmann D, Beauducel A (2001) Intelligenz-Struktur-Test 2000 R. Hogrefe Verlag, Göttingen
Avlund K, Damsgaard MT, Osler M (2004) Social position and functional decline among non-disabled old men and women. Eur J Public Health 14:212–216
Avlund K, Osler M, Mortensen EL et al (2014) Copenhagen aging and midlife biobank (CAMB): an introduction. J Aging Health 26:5–20. https://doi.org/10.1177/0898264313509277
Baadsgaard M, Quitzau J (2011) Danish registers on personal income and transfer payments. Scand J Public Health 39:103–105. https://doi.org/10.1177/1403494811405098
Ben-Shlomo Y, Cooper R, Kuh D (2016) The last two decades of life course epidemiology, and its relevance for research on ageing. Int J Epidemiol 45:973–988. https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyw096
Boen C, Yang YC (2016) The physiological impacts of wealth shocks in late life: evidence from the great recession. Soc Sci Med 150:221–230. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.12.029
Cevenini E, Monti D, Franceschi C (2013) Inflamm-ageing. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 16:14–20. https://doi.org/10.1097/MCO.0b013e32835ada13
Cooper R, Kuh D, Hardy R et al (2010) Objectively measured physical capability levels and mortality: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 341:c4467. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c4467
Cooper R, Kuh D, Cooper C et al (2011) Objective measures of physical capability and subsequent health: a systematic review. Age Ageing 40:14–23. https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afq117
Cooper R, Hardy R, Sayer AA, Kuh D (2014a) A life course approach to physical capability. In: Kuh D, Cooper R, Hardy R et al (eds) A life course approach to healthy ageing, First. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 16–31
Cooper R, Stafford M, Hardy R et al (2014b) Physical capability and subsequent positive mental wellbeing in older people: findings from five HALCyon cohorts. Age (Omaha) 36:445–456. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11357-013-9553-8
Eurostat - Statistics Explained (2014) Glossary:At-risk-of-poverty rate. http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Glossary:At-risk-of-poverty_rate. Accessed 23 Mar 2018
Fairfax A, Balnave R, Adams R (1995) Variability of grip strength during isometric contraction. Ergonomics 38:1819–1830
Galobardes B, Shaw M, Lawlor DA et al (2006) Indicators of socioeconomic position (part 1). J Epidemiol Community Health 60:7–12. https://doi.org/10.1136/jech.2004.023531
Glymour MM, Greenland S (2008) Causal diagrams. In: Rothman KJ, Greenland S, Lash TL (eds) Modern epidemiology. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia, pp 183–210
Hallqvist J, Lynch J, Bartley M et al (2004) Can we disentangle life course processes of accumulation, critical period and social mobility? an analysis of disadvantaged socio-economic positions and myocardial infarction in the Stockholm heart epidemiology program. Soc Sci Med 58:1555–1562. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0277-9536(03)00344-7
Harper S (2014) Economic and social implications of aging societies. Science (80-) 346:587–591. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1254405
Hessel P, Avendano M, Hayward M et al (2016) Economic downturns during the life-course and late-life health: an analysis of 11 European countries. Eur J Public Health 41:87–107. https://doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckw063
Holsgaard Larsen A, Caserotti P, Puggaard L, Aagaard P (2007) Reproducibility and relationship of single-joint strength vs multi-joint strength and power in aging individuals. Scand J Med Sci Sport 17:43–53. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0838.2006.00560.x
Hurst L, Stafford M, Cooper R et al (2013) Lifetime socioeconomic inequalities in physical and cognitive aging. Am J Public Health 103:1641–1648. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2013.301240
Jensen VM, Rasmussen AW (2011) Danish education registers. Scand J Public Health 39:91–94. https://doi.org/10.1177/1403494810394715
Johnson TV, Abbasi A, Master VA (2013) Systematic review of the evidence of a relationship between chronic psychosocial stress and C-reactive protein. Mol Diagn Ther 17:147–164. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40291-013-0026-7
Jones BL, Nagin DS (2007) Advances in group-based trajectory modeling and an SAS procedure for estimating them. Sociol Methods Res 35:542–571. https://doi.org/10.1177/0049124106292364
Jones BL, Nagin DS (2013) A Note on a stata plugin for estimating group-based trajectory models. Sociol Methods Res 42:608–613. https://doi.org/10.1177/0049124113503141
Kahn JR, Pearlin LI (2006) Financial strain over the life course and health among older adults. J Health Soc Behav 47:17–31. https://doi.org/10.1177/002214650604700102
Krieger N, Williams DR, Moss NE (1997) Measuring social class in US public health research: concepts, methodologies, and guidelines. Annu Rev Public Health 18:341–378. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.publhealth.18.1.341
Kubzansky LD, Seeman TE, Glymour MM (2014) Biological pathways linking social conditions and health - Plausible mechanisms and emerging puzzles. In: Berkman LF, Kawachi I, Glymour MM (eds) Social epidemiology, 2nd edn. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 512–561
Lash T, Fox M, Fink A (2009) Applying quantitative bias analysis to epidemiologic data. Springer Science & Business Media, Berlin
Lund R, Mortensen EL, Christensen U et al (2016) Cohort profile: the Copenhagen aging and midlife biobank (CAMB). Int J Epidemiol 45:1044–1053. https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyv149
Lynch J, Kaplan G, Shema S (1997) Cumulative impact of sustained economic hardship on physical, cognitive, psychological and social functioning. N Engl J Med 337:1889–1895. https://doi.org/10.1056/nejm199712253372606
Mortensen EL, Flensborg-Madsen T, Molbo D et al (2014) The relationship between cognitive ability and demographic factors in late midlife. J Aging Health 26:37–53. https://doi.org/10.1177/0898264313508780
Nazmi A, Victora CG (2007) Socioeconomic and racial/ethnic differentials of C-reactive protein levels: a systematic review of population-based studies. BMC Public Health 7:1–12. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-7-212
Oakes JM, Andrade KE (2017) The measurement of socioeconomic status. In: Oakes JM, Kaufman JS (eds) Methods in social epidemiology, 2nd edn. Jossey-Bass a Wiley Brand, San Francisco, pp 23–42
OECD (2018) Poverty rate (indicator). https://data.oecd.org/inequality/poverty-rate.htm. Accessed 28 Mar 2018
Perna L, Wahl HW, Mons U et al (2015) Cognitive impairment, all-cause and cause-specific mortality among non-demented older adults. Age Ageing 44:445–451. https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afu188
Richards M, Deary IJ (2014) A life course approach to cognitive capability. In: Kuh D, Cooper R, Hardy R et al (eds) A life course approach to healthy ageing, First. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 32–45
Ritchie C, Trost SG, Brown W, Armit C (2005) Reliability and validity of physical fitness field tests for adults aged 55 to 70 years. J Sci Med Sport 8:61–70. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1440-2440(05)80025-8
Simons RL, Kit M, Beach SRH et al (2016) Economic hardship and biological weathering: the epigenetics of aging in a U. S. sample of black women. Soc Sci Med 150:192–200. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.12.001
Strand BH, Cooper R, Hardy R et al (2011) Lifelong socioeconomic position and physical performance in midlife: results from the British 1946 birth cohort. Eur J Epidemiol 26:475–483. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10654-011-9562-9
UCLA Institute for Digital Research and Education (2016) FAQ How do I interpret a regression model when some variables are log transformed? In: UCLA Inst. Digit. Res. Educ. https://stats.idre.ucla.edu/sas/faq/how-can-i-interpret-log-transformed-variables-in-terms-of-percent-change-in-linear-regression/. Accessed 1 Jun 2018
Western B, Bloome D, Sosnaud B, Tach L (2012) Economic Insecurity and Social Stratification. Annu Rev Sociol 38:341–359. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-soc-071811-145434
Willson AE, Shuey KM (2016) Life course pathways of economic hardship and mobility and midlife trajectories of health. J Health Soc Behav 57:407–422. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022146516660345
The authors thank the staff at Department of Public Health and National Research Centre for the Working Environment, who undertook the data collection. Further thanks to Kirsten Avlund†, Nils-Erik Fiehn, Åse Marie Hansen, Poul Holm-Pedersen and Merete Osler who participated in the initiation and establishment of the Copenhagen Ageing and Midlife Biobank from 2009 to 2011. The authors acknowledge the crucial role of the initiators and steering groups of The Metropolit Cohort, The Copenhagen Perinatal Cohort and The Danish Longitudinal Study in Work, Unemployment and Health. Further, the authors would like to thank the Social Inequalities in Ageing (SIA) project, funded by NordForsk, Project No. 74637, for valuable collaboration relating to this project.
This work was funded by the Center for Healthy Aging established by a grant from the Nordea Foundation. The research leading to these results was carried out as part of the Social Inequalities in Ageing (SIA) project, funded by NordForsk, Project No. 74637. The Copenhagen Ageing and Midlife Biobank has been supported by a generous grant from the VELUX FOUNDATIONS (VELUX26145 and 31539).
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Responsible editor: Susanne Iwarsson.
Else Foverskov and Gitte Lindved Petersen are co-first authors.
Electronic supplementary material
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
About this article
Cite this article
Foverskov, E., Petersen, G.L., Pedersen, J.L.M. et al. Economic hardship over twenty-two consecutive years of adult life and markers of early ageing: physical capability, cognitive function and inflammation. Eur J Ageing 17, 55–67 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10433-019-00523-z
- Economic hardship
- Early ageing
- Life course
- Physical capability
- Cognitive function