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Males with decrease revenue and schooling degree might have elevated danger of dying from COVID-19

Being a man, having a lower income, having a lower level of education, not being married, and being born abroad in low- or middle-income countries – these are factors that are independently linked to an increased risk of dying COVID-19 in Sweden.

These are the results of a new study in Stockholm University’s journal Nature Communications.

We can show that there are independent effects of various separate risk factors that have been raised in the debates and news about COVID-19. Accordingly, all of these factors are individually associated with a greatly increased risk of dying from COVID-19. “

Sven Drefahl, lead author of the study and Associate Professor of Demography, Institute of Sociology, Stockholm University

When it comes to the increased risk of dying from COVID-19 for people from low- and middle-income countries such as the Middle East and North Africa, it does not align with general mortality patterns for this group. Sven Drefahl explains that people born abroad generally have a lower mortality rate than people born in Sweden.

This also applies taking into account income and educational level. The increased risk of dying from COVID-19 remains for this group after researchers review circumstances such as income and level of education.

The study also shows that the risk of dying from COVID-19 was much higher in the Stockholm area than outside, for both Swedish-born and foreign-born people, which is explained by the greater spread of disease in that region can be.

The study shows that a man with a lower income and a lower level of education also leads to a greatly increased risk of dying from COVID-19. In this regard, this is also consistent with mortality patterns from other diseases.

“Men generally have higher mortality rates at their comparable age, which is believed to be a result of a combination of biology and lifestyle. The fact that people with low education or low incomes have higher mortality rates can largely be due to lifestyle factors such as finances – how much can one afford to prioritize one’s health? Likewise, we can explain the increased mortality from COVID-19 for these groups, “said Gunnar Andersson.

A number of previous studies have also shown that single and unmarried people have higher mortality rates from various diseases. This is usually explained in part by choice, which means that people who are in poorer health to begin with are less attractive in the partner market and therefore marry to a lesser extent.

“The statement also applies to singles with a less sheltered environment than to those living in a couple relationship. Accordingly, marriage can lead to healthier lives with a lower risk of disease than unmarried people. This can also explain the increased risk of being unmarried People dying from COVID-19 was shown in our study, “said Sven Drefahl.

Facts: How the study was conducted

The study is based on data from the Swedish National Health and Welfare Service on all registered deaths from COVID-19 in Sweden for adults aged 20 and over by May 7, 2020. This was combined with registry data from Statistics Sweden on city of residence, marital status, country of birth, income , Educational level and age. The research is funded by Forte, the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare.

Facts: Mortality from COVID-19

• Men were more than twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as women.
• Unmarried men and women (including those who were never married, widows / widowers, and divorced) were 1.5 to 2 times as likely to die from COVID-19 as those who were married.
• Living in the Stockholm area was associated with a 4.5 times higher risk of dying from COVID-19 (for both men and women) compared to the rest of the country.
• Those born abroad from low and middle income countries in the Middle East and North Africa had twice the mortality rate from COVID-19 for women and three times the mortality rate for men compared to people born in Sweden.
• Those born overseas from low- and middle-income countries outside the Middle East and North Africa had more than 1.5 times the death rate from COVID-19.
• Men with compulsory schooling and upper secondary school were about 25 percent higher risk of dying from COVID-19 than men with post-secondary secondary school.
• Women with compulsory schooling and upper secondary school were 40 to 50 percent higher risk of dying from COVID-19 than women with post-secondary secondary school.


Journal reference:

Drefahl, S. et al. (2020) A Population-Based Cohort Study of Sociodemographic Risk Factors for COVID-19 Deaths in Sweden. Nature communication. doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-18926-3.

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