• coexisting disadvantages;
  • deprivation;
  • welfare resources;
  • oldest old;
  • age span;
  • age differences;
  • Sweden

Heap J, Lennartsson C, Thorslund M. Coexisting disadvantages across the adult age span: a comparison of older and younger age groups in the Swedish welfare state

To experience coexisting disadvantages – the simultaneous lack of several different welfare resources – implies a hampered ability to manage one's living conditions. Here, we study coexisting disadvantages in the oldest population compared with younger age groups in Sweden, by drawing on two linked, nationally representative surveys (n = 5,392). The measurement of coexisting disadvantages included physical health, psychological health, frequency of social contact, cash margin and political resources. The highest odds of coexisting disadvantages were found after age 75 – age groups that are frequently excluded from studies of coexisting disadvantages. This pattern persisted when controlling for socio-demographic and socio-economic characteristics. The age pattern was partly driven by the high prevalence of physical health problems in the older population. However, even when excluding physical health problems, the odds of coexisting disadvantages were highest among people older than 85 – the fastest-growing segment of the population in many Western countries.