Photo of Susanne Kelfve

Susanne Kelfve

Associate Professor, Head of Division, Docent

I am a sociologist and my research concerns inequality in old age. I also teach primarily in quantitative method.


My research is mainly about inequality in later life between different groups in the society.

I am interested in patterns of living conditions, how these living conditions changes over time and the impact of these differences for quality of life, health and longevity. In addition, I have a special interest in methodological challenges in population studies about older people’s health and living conditions. From an inequality perspective, it is essential that all people are represented in studies used for research and political decisions. I mainly work with large population studies and register data were we look for regularities and associations between different factors.



Gülin Öylü, Chiara Natalie Focacci, Luis Serratos-Sotelo, Andreas Motel-Klingebiel, Susanne Kelfve (2023) When we were young: how labour market attachment during mid-life affects labour market exit International journal of sociology and social policy, Vol. 43, p. 245-262 Continue to DOI
Chiara Natalie Focacci, Gülin Öylü, Andreas Motel-Klingebiel, Susanne Kelfve (2023) The value of pension reforms for late working life: evidence from Sweden International journal of sociology and social policy, Vol. 43, p. 79-89 Continue to DOI
Arianna Poli, Susanne Kelfve, Katarina Berg, Andreas Motel-Klingebiel (2023) Old-age diversity is underrepresented in digital health research: findings from the evaluation of a mobile phone system for post-operative progress monitoring in Sweden Ageing & Society, Vol. 43, p. 2264-2286 Continue to DOI
Susanne Kelfve, Jonas W. Wastesson, Bettina Meinow (2023) Length of the period with late life dependency: Does the age of onset make a difference? European Journal of Ageing, Vol. 20, Article 30 Continue to DOI
Charlotta Nilsen, Janne Agerholm, Susanne Kelfve, Jonas W. Wastesson, Ingemar Kareholt, Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen, Bettina Meinow (2023) History of working conditions and the risk of old-age dependency: a nationwide Swedish register-based study Scandinavian Journal of Public Health Continue to DOI

Ongoing research projects

Did we forget the frail people? The impact of study design on estimated differences in health within and across European countries

When conducting population surveys, the assumption is that the study population represent the population that we aim to say something about, i.e. that the results are generalizable to the population. Conducting representative surveys among old people are extra challenging due to the high prevalence of frailty and poor health in old age. Without extra effort, the study population will most likely have better health than the general population. 

The overall aim with this project, financed by FORTE (dnr 2017-01456), is to contribute to the development of better methods for comparable estimates of health among old people, within and between European countries. 

Better health in old age – but how long is the period with severe disability and poor health?

In this project, also financed by FORTE (dnr 2016-00197), I investigate the last part of life with Bettina Meinow and Jonas Wastesson from ARC (Karolinska institutet och Stockholm University). We aim to investigate the length of the so called “fourth age”, that is, the last part of life that is characterized by disability, poor health and dependency. Our research questions concerns how long this period is, how it differs between different groups in the society and if the length of this period is related to when it starts. In this project we use register data from Statistic Sweden and from National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).

Predictive and individualized care for older people with severe health problems (Focused primary care)

The project “Focused primary care” is an intervention study conducted in collaboration between Professor Jan Marcusson (LiU) and Region Östergötland. The aim is to “focus” the resources in primary care to the old people with greatest need. Together with Professor Andreas Motel-Klingebiel (LiU) I run one of the sub projects in “Focused primary care”. Our sub project aims to strengthen the social science perspective in the project. We will investigate the potential effect of the intervention on quality of life, informal care and trust in society and the health care system for different societal groups. In this project we use register data from the region as well as a survey that is conducted within the project, targeting the old people within the intervention project.

Who drinks more and why? Explanations to the increased alcohol consumption in old age.

I also have an interest in alcohol consumption in old age and have among other things made some studies about alcohol consumption among the oldest old in Sweden. In this project I work with Neda Agahi (project leader) from ARC (Karolinska institutet och Stockholm University) who got money from Systembolaget to investigate possible explanations to the increased alcohol consumption among old people. In this project we use e.g. SWEOLD and HEARTS.

Selected publications

Kelfve S., Wastesson J., Fors S., Johnell K., Morin L. (2018). Is the level of education associated with transitions between care settings in older adults near the end of life? A nationwide, retrospective cohort study. Palliative Medicine, 32(2), 366-375.

Kelfve, S. (2017). Underestimated health inequalities among older people—A consequence of excluding the most disabled and disadvantaged. The Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences. First online 29 March 2017. DOI:

Kelfve, S., Fors, S., & Lennartsson, C. (2017). Getting better all the time? Selective attrition and compositional changes in longitudinal and life-course studies. Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 8(1), 104-120.

Agahi, N., Kelfve, S., Lennartsson, C. & Kåreholt, I. (2016). Alcohol consumption in very old age and its association with survival: a matter of health and physical function. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, pp 240-245.

Kelfve, S. & Ahacic, K. (2015). Bias in estimates of alcohol use among older people: selection effects due to design, health, and cohort replacement. BMC Public Health, 15:769 DOI:10.1186/s12889-015-2114-6

Kelfve, S., Lennartsson, C., Agahi, N. & Modig, K. (2015). Do postal health surveys capture morbidity and mortality in respondents aged 65 years and older? A register-based validation study. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 43(4), 348-355

Kelfve, S., Agahi, N., Darin Mattsson, A. & Lennartsson, C. (2014). Increased alcohol use over the past 20 years among the oldest old in Sweden. Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 31(3), 245-260.

Lennartsson, C., Agahi, N., Hols-Salén, L., Kelfve, S., Kåreholt, I., Lundberg, O., Parker, M. G. & Thorslund, M. (2014). Data Resource Profile: The Swedish Panel Study of Living Conditions of the Oldest Old (SWEOLD). International Journal of Epidemiology,43(3), 731-738.

Kelfve, S., Thorslund, M. & Lennartsson, C. (2013). Sampling and non-response bias on health-outcomes in surveys of the oldest old. European Journal of Ageing, 10(3), 237-245.

Parker, M.G., Lennartsson, C. & Kelfve, S. (2010). Approcher l’âge de la retraite en Suède: santé et ressources des 50-64 ans entre 1968 et 2000 (Approaching retirement age in Sweden: Health and resources of 50 to 64-year-olds from 1968 to 2000). Retraite et Société, 59: 39-59.

Doctoral thesis
Kelfve, S. (2015). Gotta survey somebody – Methodological challenges in population studies of older people. Stockholm: Stockholm University; Thesis.