Socioeconomic inequalities in asthma and respiratory symptoms in a high-income country: changes from 1996 to 2016

Christian Schyllert, Anne Lindberg, Linnea Hedman, Caroline Stridsman, Martin Andersson, Heidi Andersén, Päivi Piirilä, Bright I. Nwaru, Steinar Krokstad, Eva Rönmark, Helena Backman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Objective: Low socioeconomic status based both on educational level and income has been associated with asthma and respiratory symptoms, but changes over time in these associations have rarely been studied. The aim was to study the associations between educational or income inequality and asthma and respiratory symptoms among women and men over a 20-year period in northern Sweden. Methods: The study was performed within the Obstructive Lung disease in Northern Sweden (OLIN) research program. Mailed questionnaire surveys were administered to a random sample of adults (20-69 years of age) living in Sweden, in 1996, 2006 and 2016. Data on educational level and income were collected from the national integrated database for labor market research. Results: The educational inequality associated with asthma and asthmatic wheeze tended to decrease from 1996 to 2016, while it increased for productive cough, the latter among men not among women. The income inequality decreased for productive cough, especially for women, while no clear overall trends were found for asthmatic wheeze and asthma, apart from a decrease in income inequality regarding asthma among men. Conclusion: The patterns for socioeconomic inequality differed for asthma and wheeze compared to productive cough, and the results emphasize that education and income do not mirror the same aspects of socioeconomic inequality in a high-income country. Our findings are important for decision makers, not the least on a political level, as reduced inequality, e.g. through education, could lead to reduced morbidity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-194
Issue number1
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Asthma
  • Epidemiology
  • Respiratory symptoms
  • Socioeconomic inequality
  • Socioeconomic status

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Socioeconomic inequalities in asthma and respiratory symptoms in a high-income country: changes from 1996 to 2016'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this