Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Unemployment and mortality in Denmark, 1970-80.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 295 doi: (Published 10 October 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;295:879
  1. L Iversen,
  2. O Andersen,
  3. P K Andersen,
  4. K Christoffersen,
  5. N Keiding
  1. Institute of Social Medicine, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


    Relative mortality in the period 1970-80 was studied among Danish men and women who were unemployed and employed on the day of the 1970 census. The study population consisted of the total labour force in the age range 20-64 on 9 November 1970--that is, about 2 million employed and 22,000 unemployed people. Relative mortality was analysed by a multiplicative hazard regression model (as a natural extension of the standardised mortality ratio) and a multiplicative regression model with extra-Poisson variation. A significantly increased death rate (40-50%) was found among the unemployed after adjusting for occupation, housing category, geographical region, and marital state. Analysis of five main causes of death showed increased mortality from all causes, but especially from suicide or accidents. In areas where the local unemployment rate was comparatively high the relative mortality among the unemployed was lower. The increased mortality among the unemployed was interpreted as a consequence of health related selection as well as increased susceptibility associated with the psychosocial stress of unemployment.