Does educational status impact adult mortality in Denmark? A twin approach

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To disentangle an independent effect of educational status on mortality risk from direct and indirect selection mechanisms, the authors used a discordant twin pair design, which allowed them to isolate the effect of education by means of adjustment for genetic and environmental confounding per design. The study is based on data from the Danish Twin Registry and Statistics Denmark. Using Cox regression, they estimated hazard ratios for mortality according to the highest attained education among 5,260 monozygotic and 11,088 dizygotic same-sex twin pairs born during 1921-1950 and followed during 1980-2008. Both standard cohort and intrapair analyses were conducted separately for zygosity, gender, and birth cohort. Educational differences in mortality were demonstrated in the standard cohort analyses but attenuated in the intrapair analyses in all subgroups but men born during 1921-1935, and no effect modification by zygosity was observed. Hence, the results are most compatible with an effect of early family environment in explaining the educational inequality in mortality. However, large educational differences were still reflected in mortality risk differences within twin pairs, thus supporting some degree of independent effect of education. In addition, the effect of education may be more pronounced in older cohorts of Danish men.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)225-34
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010

    Research areas

  • Adult, Denmark, Educational Status, Family Relations, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Mortality, Proportional Hazards Models, Sex Factors, Twins, Dizygotic, Twins, Monozygotic

ID: 32326378