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Research project Ageing well - individuals, families and households under changing demographic regimes in Sweden

This research program addresses long-term change in relation to ageing at the societal level as well as applying a life-course perspective on ageing as seen from the individual level.

Old man's hands
Photo: Eduardo Barrios/Unsplash

The Ageing Well research program is inter-disciplinary in its design and involves fifteen researchers at three Swedish universities: three researchers at Karolinska institutet, seven at Stockholm University, and five at Umeå University. The program is coordinated at the Stockholm University Demography Unit. 

It is organized with research along five interconnected work packages with different foci on ageing individuals, families and households under changing demographic regimes in Sweden. It addresses long-term change in relation to ageing at the societal level as well as applying a life-course perspective on ageing as seen from the individual level. The program’s five sub-projects are as follows:

WP 1: Disease onset and survival – The disability threshold
WP 2: The implications of social policies over the life course for socioeconomic and gender equality in ageing
WP 3: Work, family and health in late life
WP 4: Single living, co-residence and family complexity among the elderly of today and tomorrow
WP 5: The future of ageing – a micro forecasting approach

The program has established collaborations with researchers related to another Forte program located at Stockholm University, that of Migrant Trajectories (PI: Bo Malmberg). These collaborations allow us to link migration and ageing research with a focus on the health and life situation of elderly foreign-born people in Sweden.

In short, our programme addresses the shifting dependency threshold and its implications for the burden of care associated with individual and societal ageing. We first examine the dependency threshold itself – the delay of onset and improved survival from disease that not only increases longevity but also raises the age threshold for dependency. Second, we consider the role of work-family balance earlier in life, including the role of policies, for shaping gender inequalities in ageing and dependency in later life. Third, we examine changes in retirement and late-life employment that underlie the economic dependence of the older generation. Fourth, we study changes in family and living arrangements that may exacerbate and/or alleviate dependency in old age. Finally, we conduct micro-simulations based on results from all of these components to predict the composition of future generations in terms of dependency and potential caregivers. 

Project description

WP 1: Disease onset and survival – The disability threshold

Participants:

Karin Modig, Anders Ahlbom, Mats Talbäck, Anna Meyer, Marcus Ebeling, Sven Drefahl, Anders Brändström, Mojgan Padyab

In this project, we address (1) the extent to which increased longevity is composed of years in good versus poor health, and (2) whether improvements in health among the elderly offset the potential societal burden of their greater number in the population. We construct projections on the future number of new myocardial infarctions, stroke, and hip fractures based on past incidence trends and future population change. Compensation rates are calculated, i.e. how much the age specific incidence needs to come down in order to keep the absolute number of disease events constant in the future, despite an aging and growing population. We calculate how the number of prevalent cases will increase as a result of the projected demographic development and of increased disease specific survival.

WP 2: The implications of social policies over the life course for socioeconomic and gender equality

Participants

Sofi Ohlsson-Wijk, Livia Oláh, Ann-Zofie Duvander, Gunnar Andersson, Lena Karlsson, Mojgan Paydab, Martin Kolk

WP 2 is scheduled to start in 2020 but a few specific studies are already in progress. A study on the relationship between life-course accumulated income and childbearing of Swedish men and women is drafted and a study on late and postponed fertility is under preparation.

WP 3: Work, family and health in late life

Participants

Linda Kridahl, Ann-Zofie Duvander, Gunnar Andersson, Karin Modig, Anders Brändström, Lena Karlsson, Martin Kolk

WP 3 addresses how retirement and post-retirement work is influenced by socioeconomic and health inequalities in late life as well as by family circumstances. It studies how late life labor-market experiences interact with family circumstances to influence retirement and post-retirement work and how these relationships may have changed over time in relation to changes in the Swedish pension system.

WP 4: Single living, co-residence and family complexity among the elderly of today and tomorrow

Participants

Glenn Sandström, Livia Oláh, Mojgan Padyab, Lena Karlsson, Anders Brändström

This project addresses how the composition of the mid-life single-living population has changed in terms of gender and family status, socioeconomic conditions and geographic distribution; how the welfare and health differentials between mid-life persons living alone and living with others have changed; how pathways to single living in mid-life -- death of a spouse, separation/divorce, non-partnering, childlessness – have changed over time and across cohorts; the extent to which these differentials and changes vary by gender, socioeconomic conditions and geographic location; and the extent to which individuals living alone have nearby kin as potential sources of social support, and how this vary by gender, socioeconomic status and geographical area.

WP 5: The future of ageing – a micro forecasting approach

Participants

Sven Drefahl, Martin Kolk, Erling Lundevaller, Anders Ahlbom, Karin Modig, Mats Talbäck, Gunnar Andersson, Glenn Sandström

In this project we use innovative microsimulation models to study the nature of kinship networks for women and men, native and foreign-born and different socioeconomic groups in Sweden, and how these are likely to change in the future. It helps us assess the implications of the composition of future elderly stemming from the combined trends in demography, health, household and socioeconomic structure.

WP 5 is planned to lead to publications in the last period of program support. During the first three years, activity has been concentrated on data preparations and calibrations and the construction of a micro-forecasting model in R. A master's thesis provides a case study for the kinship structure of Iranians in Sweden while considering only the impact of mortality during 2018-2041.

Project members

Project managers

Karin Modig

Associate Professor

The division of Epidemiology at Karolinska institutet

Members

Anders Ahlbom

Senior Professor of Epidemiology

Karolinska institutet

Anders Brändström

Gästforskare

Department of Sociology

Sven Drefahl

Senior Lecturer, Docent

Department of Sociology
Sven Drefahl. Photo: Stockholm University

Marcus Ebeling

Postdoctoral researcher

Institute of Environmental Mecicine, Karolinska institutet

Erling Häggström Lundevaller

Guest Researcher

Department of Sociology

Martin Kolk

Researcher, Docent

Department of Sociology
Martin Kolk

Linda Nathalié Kridahl

Researcher

Department of Sociology
Linda Kridahl. Foto: Stockholms universitet

Anna Meyer

PhD student

Institute for environmental medicine

Sofi Ohlsson Wijk

Researcher

Department of Sociology
Sofi Ohlsson-Wijk Foto Leila Zoubir Stockholms universitet

Livia Olah

Senior Lecturer, Docent

Department of Sociology
bild

Mojgan Padyab

Guest Researcher

Department of Sociology

Glenn Sandström

Guest Researcher

Department of Sociology
Glenn Sandström

Mats Talbäck

Statistician

Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet

Publications