According to research by Stefan Fors at the Department of Social Studies at Stockholm University, the higher the class of society to which a person belongs, the longer they can expect to live. For people living in poor social and economic conditions, the expected lifespan is not nearly so long.

According to the Swedish Bureau of Statistics, SCB, over one fifth of the population will be 65 or older in 2020, but the chances of longevity are influenced by major inequalities in terms of health and life length.

"Persons who have or have had traditional working class occupations - such as industrial workers, craftsmen and manufacturers - have fewer chances for a long life with good health than people with middle class professions," said Fors.

Inequities begin early in life, and he notes that there are evident links between childhood relationships and those in later life, such as social class membership and civilian positions. These affect the risk of poor health and premature death.

"Individuals from the upper classes have, on the average, better physical and mental health and live longer than individuals from the lower strata of society," observed Fors.

"Childhood appears to be a time that exerts great influence on how we fare thereafter. This suggests that investing in good child care and schools in the long run can have beneficial effects on health status of the elderly," asserts Fors.

Source: Stockholm University