Social Gerontology – Carin Lennartsson group

In our research on ageing and the living conditions of older people, we use cross-sectional and longitudinal data from interviews and registers. The research group is focusing on a number of research questions related to the physical and mental health of older adults, integrated health and social care, health literacy, family relationships and loneliness, as well as a number of aspects of group-level inequality.

Carin Lennartsson Photo: Andreas Andersson

Carin Lennartsson in episode #100 of KI's podcast Medicinvetarna

"Loneliness can be a problem for those who get very old, as many of their friends and loved ones have passed away". Carin Lennartsson is one of the researchers interviewed in KI’s podcast Medicinvetarna episode #100, on the topic "100-year-olds". The episode explores various aspects and consequences of the fact that more and more people are getting older (in Swedish).

Research news and upcoming activities


Research support

Swedish Research Council

Staff and contact

Group leader

All members of the group

Our teams

Inequalities in ageing

Loneliness and Social relationships

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Lena Dahlberg

Affiliated to Research

Health literacy and integrated care

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Janne Agerholm

Assistant Professor;Assistant Senior Lecturer

Contact and visit us

Postal address

Aging Research Center, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society
Karolinska Institutet
SE-171 77 Stockholm

Visiting address

Tomtebodavägen 18 A, Widerström Building, floors 9 and 10
SE-171 65 Solna

Map to Widerström building, Tomtebodavägen 18a, Solna

Inequalities of ageing (Lennartsson)

Our research

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.

Involved researchers

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Carin Lennartsson

Principal Investigator

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, socioeconomic 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 socioeconomic status or gender.

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

Loneliness and Social Relationships (Dahlberg)

Our research

Our research focuses on loneliness among older adults and is undertaken in collaboration between Aging Research Center and Dalarna University.

Involved researchers

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Lena Dahlberg

Principal Investigator

Programmes and projects


Within the Research Programme on Ageing, Loneliness, and Mental Health: Understanding the Links and Enabling Change (REALM) focus is on loneliness among older adults, how loneliness is perceived and experienced, and its relationship to mental health. We will fill research gaps in order to promote evidence-based approaches to identifying, assessing, and addressing loneliness in practise by:

  • examining inequalities in risk factors and consequences of loneliness, and causal associations between loneliness, mental health and care
  • exploring subjective experiences of loneliness and mental health from a life-course perspective
  • developing an instrument to assess loneliness in practice 
  • creating a loneliness literacy training programme for care professionals, and enhancing care professionals’ response to loneliness

REALM is funded through a programme grant from The Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (FORTE).

REALM info sheet (in Swedish)

Causes and Actions of Late-life Loneliness (CALL)

The project Causes and Actions of Late-life Loneliness (CALL) aims to:

  • identify risk factors for loneliness with particular focus on social relations and the neighbourhood
  • examine the experience of loneliness
  • identify successful actions to alleviate loneliness in the oldest old

CALL is funded by The Kamprad Family Foundation for Entrepreneurship, Research & Charity.

Health literacy and integrated care (Agerholm)

Our research

Our research focuses on how the health and social care system can meet the needs of an ageing population. We are studying equity in health and health care, the interaction between health and social care services and health literacy from an individual and organisational perspective.

We are interested in understanding how the health and social care system can meet the needs of an ageing population in a sustainable way. In one of our projects, we are exploring the interplay between health and social care services in terms of spending. By linking population-based registers to measures of care expenditure in the last year of life, we want to gain insight into how care resources are used and how expenditures in health care and social care are associated. This can help highlight resource-intensive areas and uncover inefficiencies at the border between health and social care.

We are also interested in understanding how to achieve a more integrated person-centred care. In a project about the life circumstances of first-time social health care users (65 years and older) we are combining health and social care data to better understand their need for coordination of care. We are also interviewing first-time social health care users about what lead to a decision on applying for social care and to what degree their expectations and needs were meet.

Being health literacy responsive as a health care professional is an important component of providing person-centred care. However, very little is known of the level of health literacy in the Swedish population. By combining both quantitative and qualitative approaches we are investigating the level of health literacy in the older population in Sweden, as well as older people experience of main barriers and facilitators for communicating with care providers and manage their health and care needs.

Involved researchers

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Janne Agerholm

Principal investigator

Ongoing projects

Health literacy among older adults: Exploring older people's prerequisites for understanding health information and making informed health choices

The project aim is to gain knowledge on HL in the older population. In this project we assess to what degree the older population in Sweden is health literate, identify groups that might face challenges due to inadequate HL and explore what older people experience as prerequisites for understanding health information and managing their health and care needs as well as communicate with caregivers.

Life situation and care needs among first time recipients of social care services

The overall aim of the project is to increase the knowledge about what characterises the life circumstances of older people who are granted social care for the first time and to explore their experiences of how the services provided correspond to their needs and expectations. This project is done in collaboration with Äldrecentrum

Untangling the relationship between health and social care spending for older people in their last years of life

The overarching aim of this project is to investigate the use of health and social care services from an expenditure perspective, to increase the knowledge of the interplay between different care resources and explore whether socio-demographic factors influence the use of care in the last year of life.

Projects in collaboration with other research groups

In the wake of COVID-19: How can the structure and quality of health and social care for older people with complex care needs in Region Stockholm be improved?

The overarching aim is to examine and identify possible challenges and effects (structure, quality, and satisfaction) of integrated care (available in Norrtälje municipality) and standard care (provided in Södertälje and Stockholm municipalities) in Region Stockholm.

Organization and response to COVID-19 of municipal health and social care services for older people – impact on mortality and health care utilization in Region Stockholm

The purpose of the study is to analyse how the local response to covid-19 by health and social care services, among community living as well as in residential living, varies and impacts on mortality (in covid-19 and total) and emergency health care utilization among older (aged 70+ years) persons in Norrtälje and Södertälje municipality and other selected municipalities and settings in Region Stockholm with different arrangements for care of older persons with greater health and social care needs.

Ageing in place – from policy to practice. Consequences of the de-institutionalisation of Swedish eldercare for older people and their family members

The aim of this study is to understand the ideas, motives and driving forces behind the Swedish ageing in place policy and practice. How have the eligibility criteria and individual characteristics for being admitted to municipal institutional care changed over time and how has the length of stay in care homes changed in recent years? 

Gerontology, specialising in Medical and Health Sciences (specialising in Social Sciences to be 50999) Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
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