Scottish Longitudinal Study
Development & Support Unit

Completed Projects

Project Title:

Health at older age: comparison of longitudinal data in Scotland and England

Project Number:



Tom Clemens (University of St Andrews)
Paul Boyle (University of St Andrews)

Start Date:

Tom Clemens (University of St Andrews) Paul Boyle (University of St Andrews)


This study aims to look at patterns of health at older age in relation to patterns of labour force participation and informal care. The analysis will focus on individuals aged over 40 in 1991 and will consider health as both an outcome and influence on these two broad issues. The ultimate aim will be to compare the results with work currently being undertaken on the English LS to provide a comparative perspective on experiences in Scotland and England.

There are two main contexts from which this work grows; the continued poor performance of Scotland in many health indicators compared to England (Elford and Ben-Shlomo 1997, Hanlon 2001, Hanlon et al. 2005, Popham 2006) and an increasing interest in the new and dynamic socio-demographic-economic trends that are emerging around the state pension age as life expectancies increase in the developed world. Workforce participation for the elderly for example has seen two general trends; an overall increase in workforce participation and secondly, and in spite of this trend, yet still a significant number of workers retiring before the state pension age (SPA) (Phillipson, Smith 2005). It is suggested that both of these trends have important potential ramifications for health during older age both as an outcome and an antecedent. Furthermore variation by social class groupings have also been significant with middle to less favourable classes much more likely to be affected by health status in terms of early retirement, particularly those individuals in physical or heavy manual jobs. Early retirement more generally is much more likely to be influenced by health than by financial factors and those aged 50 or above that leave work due to ill health are unlikely to re-enter employment (Phillipson and Smith 2005). In some cases providing informal care legitimises early exit from the labour market but in some cases obligatory rather than voluntary provision of informal care may negatively affect health outcomes for carers (Evandrou, Glaser 2004, Henz 2004). Given these two contexts this study will therefore run in parallel with work currently being undertaken on the English LS to provide a comparison of these trends between England and Scotland and asks whether there is a difference in patterns of labour force participation and informal care and health.

The project will aim to determine two things. Firstly, a comparison of mortality rates broken down by labour force participation status for individuals aged between 50-64, to compare with a replica study carried out on the English longitudinal study. The second aim is to investigate the potential for selection effects to affect the results. It is possible that in many cases labour force outcomes will be influenced by initial health which will bias attempts to understand the effect of labour force participation on health. Traditionally, and as is the case with the replica study in England, the first five years of mortality in a longitudinal study are ignored to enable any potential selection effects to wear off through either the death of the individual as a result of their illness or their recovery. Thus, this study will carry out sensitivity analyses to ascertain the effect of incrementally shortening this wearing off period for our results.


Elford, J. & Ben-Shlomo, Y. 1997, "Geography and migration" in Life course influences on adult disease., eds. J. Elford & Y. Ben-Shlomo, Oxford: Oxford University Press, .

Evandrou, M. & Glaser, K. 2004, "Family, work and quality of life: changing economic and social roles through the lifecourse", Ageing and Society, vol. 24, no. 05, pp. 771-791.

Hanlon, P. 2001, Chasing the Scottish Effect, Public Health Institute of Scotland.

Hanlon, P., Lawder, R.S., Buchanan, D., Redpath, A., Walsh, D., Wood, R., Bain, M., Brewster, D.H. & Chalmers, J. 2005, "Why is mortality higher in Scotland than in England and Wales? Decreasing influence of socioeconomic deprivation between 1981 and 2001 supports the existence of a 'Scottish Effect'", Journal of public health (Oxford, England), vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 199-204.

Henz, U. 2004, "The effects of informal care on paid-work participation in Great Britain: a lifecourse perspective", Ageing and Society, vol. 24, no. 06, pp. 851-880.

Phillipson, C. & Smith, A. 2005, Extending Working Life: A Review of the Research Literature, Corporate Document Services for the Dept. for Work and Pensions.

Popham, F. 2006, "Is there a "Scottish effect" for self reports of health? Individual level analysis of the 2001 UK census", BMC public health, vol. 6, pp. 191.

Related Outputs (viewable on CALLS Hub):

Explore the variables held in the SLS data dictionary.

Recent News

Upcoming Events

Events feed unavailable

Latest SLS Tweets