Inequalities in ageing (Carin Lennartsson)

At present, our research covers different important areas of older adults’ living situation and health. Within the framework of intergenerational transfers of social and economic support in families, our research concerns how economic and social support are mutually exchanged between generations over the life course.

We also study health, health inequalities and health trends. This work is of major public health concerns, as the number of older adults increases in absolute and relative terms and life expectancy continues to increase. Our focus is on changing population health, and how the patterns vary across social groups, geographical areas, and time periods.

Another important line of our research concerns transitions that often occur later in life, such as retirement, loss of close relatives and deteriorating health and how these transitions are associated with people’s ability to ageing well. 

Our research also involves quantitative analysis using both longitudinal and cross-sectional data. Being responsible for the SWEOLD study our research interests also cover the methodological challenges involved in studying the oldest old.

Ongoing projects

Cash and care. Intergenerational transfers in the families of the oldest-old and their consequences for inequality

There is an ongoing demographic shift where both the number and proportions of older people are increasing. This development of ageing societies puts great pressure on the sustainability of welfare state.

During the last decades we have seen a retrenchment of the welfare state with, for instance, the downsizing of institutional eldercare which has placed more responsibility for eldercare on families. Although the welfare state is important for the wellbeing of individuals so are family relations. Family members distribute care and financial resources to each other over the life-course, making also past transfers important to consider. 
The family transfers of care and financial resources may contribute to gender and socioeconomic inequalities, as families often allocate care duties to women and have varying amounts of resources available for providing transfers. 

The aim is to study how inequalities are shaped and responded to by families through transfers of cash and care between older adults and their adult children and grandchildren. We will use long-term longitudinal and cross-cohort data to answer the following questions:

  • Are intergenerational transfers of cash and care unequally distributed by gender and socioeconomic position of recipients and receivers? 
  • Are upward intergenerational transfers of cash and care formed by reciprocity and needs over the life-course, and are there distinct socioeconomic and gender patterns in these life course exchanges? 
  • Do downward financial transfers lead to increased inequality between families and decreased inequality within families of the receiving generation? 

This project contributes to an understanding of the family’s role as a provider of care and financial resources and to the transmission of gender and socioeconomic inequalities across generations. This knowledge is crucial in policy and planning of welfare resources, with impact on both older people and younger generations.

Inequalities in Ageing Well and the Importance of Transitions in Later Life (TRILL)

Our research is part of an international collaborative research effort lead by research in Oslo called Inequalities in Ageing Well and the Importance of Transitions in Later Life (TRILL).

The TRILL project aims to study changes or transitions that often occur later in life such as retirement, loss of a close relative and deteriorating health and how these transitions affect people's ability to age well. The research has a gender, socio-economic and geographical perspective. Within the TRILL project, we currently are studying the relationship between psychosocial work environment and retirement age, and whether the relationship depends on socio-economic status or gender.

Involved researchers

Carin Lennartsson

Principal Investigator

Research support

Swedish Research Council

Selected publications

Will your child take care of you in your old age? Unequal caregiving received by older parents from adult children in Sweden.
von Saenger I, Dahlberg L, Augustsson E, Fritzell J, Lennartsson C
Eur J Ageing 2023 Apr;20(1):8

Physical functioning as a predictor of retirement: Has its importance changed over a thirty-year period in Sweden?
Eyjólfsdóttir HS, Agahi N, Fritzell J, Lennartsson C
Eur J Ageing 2022 Dec;19(4):1417-1428

Socioeconomic Life Course Models and Oral Health: A Longitudinal Analysis.
Celeste RK, Eyjólfsdóttir HS, Lennartsson C, Fritzell J
J Dent Res 2020 Mar;99(3):257-263

Trends and gender associations in social exclusion in older adults in Sweden over two decades.
Dahlberg L, McKee KJ, Fritzell J, Heap J, Lennartsson C
Arch Gerontol Geriatr 2020 ;89():104032

Trends and Inequality in the New Active Ageing and Well-Being Index of the Oldest Old: a Case Study of Sweden
Fritzell, J., Lennartsson, C., & Zaidi, A.
Journal of Population Ageing March 2021; 14(3)

How to Measure Retirement Age? A Comparison of Survey and Register Data.
Eyjólfsdóttir HS, Baumann I, Agahi N, Lennartsson C
J Popul Ageing 2021 ;14(2):143-161

Prolongation of working life and its effect on mortality and health in older adults: Propensity score matching.
Eyjólfsdóttir HS, Baumann I, Agahi N, Fritzell J, Lennartsson C
Soc Sci Med 2019 Apr;226():77-86

Social class and infirmity. The role of social class over the life-course.
Lennartsson C, Eyjólfsdóttir HS, Celeste RK, Fritzell J
SSM Popul Health 2018 Apr;4():169-177

Getting better all the time? Selective attrition and compositional changes in longitudinal and life-course studies
Kelfve, S., Fors, S., & Lennartsson, C.
Longitudinal and Life Course Studies 2017; Volume 8 Issue 1 Pp 104 –120

Data resource profile: The Swedish Panel Study of Living Conditions of the Oldest Old (SWEOLD).
Lennartsson C, Agahi N, Hols-Salén L, Kelfve S, Kåreholt I, Lundberg O, Parker MG, Thorslund M
Int J Epidemiol 2014 Jun;43(3):731-8

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