Socioeconomic factors from midlife predict mobility limitation and depressed mood three decades later; Findings from the AGES-Reykjavik Study

Danielle A. I. Groffen*, Annemarie Koster, Hans Bosma, Marjan van den Akker, Thor Aspelund, Kristin Siggeirsdottir, Gertrudis I. J. M. Kempen, Jacques Th M. van Eijk, Gudny Eiriksdottir, Palmi V. Jonsson, Lenore J. Launer, Vilmundur Gudnason, Tamara B. Harris

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Taking into account our rapidly ageing population, older people are of particular interest in studying health inequalities. Most studies of older persons only include measures of current socioeconomic status (SES) and do not take into account data from earlier stages of life. In addition, only classic SES measures are used, while alternative measures, such as car ownership and house ownership, might equally well predict health. The present study aims to examine the effect of midlife socioeconomic factors on mobility limitation and depressed mood three decades later. Methods: Data were from 4,809 men and women aged 33-65 years who participated in the Reykjavik Study (1967-1992) and who were re-examined in old age in the Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility (AGES) -Reykjavik Study (2002-2006). Results: Education and occupation predicted mobility limitation and depressed mood. Independently, home and car ownership and the availability of housing features predicted mobility limitation. Shortages of food in childhood and lack of a car in midlife predicted depressed mood. Conclusion: Socioeconomic factors from midlife and from childhood affect mobility limitation and depressed mood in old age. Prevention of health problems in old age should begin as early as midlife.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2013


  • Socioeconomic status
  • Mobility limitation
  • Depressed mood
  • Midlife
  • Old age

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