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Life-course social class is associated with later-life diabetes prevalence in women: evidence from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing

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This study aimed to investigate the independent and synergistic effects of childhood and adult social class, as well as the effect of social mobility, on type 2 diabetes (T2D) risk in later life. Cross-sectional data from The Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing (TILDA) (n = 4,998), a nationally representative probability sample of adults aged 50 and older, were analysed. Prevalent diabetes was defined using subjective (self-reported doctor’s diagnosis) and objective data (medications usage and glycated haemoglobin testing). Social class was classified as a three-level variable based on fathers’ occupation in childhood and respondents’ primary occupation in adulthood. A five-level social mobility variable was created from cross-classification of childhood and adulthood social class. Logistic regression was employed to assess the relationship between social class variables and T2D. Mean (SD) age of the sample was 63.8y (9.9) and 46.4% were male. Incidence of T2D was 11.6% of men and 7.7% of women. Some 57.4% of the sample were classified as Manual social class in childhood. Compared to those in Professional/Managerial occupations, belonging to the Manual social class in childhood was associated with an increased risk of T2D in men (Odds Ratio (OR): 1.36, 95% CI: 0.88, 2.10) and women (OR: 2.16, 95% CI: 1.21, 3.85). This association was attenuated in women when controlled for adulthood social class (OR: 1.84, 95% CI: 1.00–3.37), suggesting that the effect of childhood social class may be modified by improving social circumstance over the life course.
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Keywords: cohort study; diabetes; disadvantage; life course; social class

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

Publication date: July 2020

This article was made available online on February 10, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "Life-course social class is associated with later-life diabetes prevalence in women: evidence from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing".

More about this publication?
  • Longitudinal and Life Course Studies (LLCS) is a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the needs of researchers studying the life course and using longitudinal methods at the interfaces of social, developmental and health sciences. It fosters cross-disciplinary and international endeavours and promotes the creation and exploitation of longitudinal data resources as well as their application to policy issues. As the journal of the Society for Longitudinal and Life Course Studies (SLLS) it provides an opportunity for scholars at all stages of their careers to publish work crossing disciplinary boundaries which is often beyond the scope of more conventional, single-field journals.

    Longitudinal research involves the follow up of individuals, households, communities or other groups over time. Life course study focuses on the influences that shape holistic pathways from conception to adult life and old age. LLCS brings together the broad range of specialist interests in an international, multi-disciplinary, multi-method framework.

    The Editors welcome submissions which report on research or methodological development, in one or more of these fields and from a spectrum of disciplinary approaches: sociological (quantitative and qualitative), demographic, economic, geographic, historical, psychological and behavioural, epidemiological and statistical. Typically papers deal with individual data in several domains (for example physical or mental health, education, housing, employment) as they change over time, and set in their life course and policy context. International comparisons are encouraged within papers and can be made between them.

    In addition to carrying research articles, the Journal specialises in publishing study profiles introducing particular longitudinal studies to scientific and policy users and the designers and managers of other studies It explores new forms of longitudinal data collection, including the exploitation of administrative sources. Occasionally, it also publishes edited debates and invited pieces about the research-policy interface, keynote addresses at SLLS conferences, and reviews of books of special relevance to our readership. The Editors seek to ensure that all research reporting is accessible to the journal's multi-disciplinary readership and encourage comparisons and collaborations between countries and studies. We are especially eager to showcase findings from parts of the world where longitudinal studies are increasingly being established, such as East Asia, Africa and South America. LLCS strives to maintain the highest quality in accepted papers through double-blind peer review, drawing on an international as well as interdisciplinary network of editors and reviewers.

    Back issues of Longitudinal and Life Course Studies are available via the PKP Platform.

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