Open Access Open Badges Research article

Proof firm downsizing and diagnosis-specific disability pensioning in Norway

Bjørgulf Claussen1*, Øyvind Næss2, Leif Jostein Reime1 and Alastair H Leyland3

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo, P.O.Box 1130, Blindern, N0318, Norway

2 National Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway

3 MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:27  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-27

Published: 11 January 2013



We wanted to investigate if firm downsizing is related to an increased rate of disability pensions among the former employed, especially for those with musculoskeletal and psychiatric diagnoses, and for those having to leave the firm.


Statistics Norway provided a linked file with demographic information and all social security grants from the National Insurance Administration for 1992–2004 for all inhabitants in Norway. Our sample was aged 30–55 years in 1995, being alive, employed and not having a disability pension at the end of 2000. Downsizing was defined as percent change in number of employed per firm from 1995 to end 2000. Employment data were missing for 25.6% of the sample.


Disability pension rates in the next four years were 25% higher for those experiencing a 30-59% downsizing than for those not experiencing a reduction of the workforce. 1-29% and 60-100% downsizing did not have this effect. Stayers following down-sizing had higher disability pension rates than leavers. What we have called complex musculoskeletal and psychiatric diagnoses were relatively most common.


Moderate downsizing is followed by a significant increase in disability pension rates in the following four years, often with complex musculoskeletal and psychiatric diagnoses.

Disability pension; Labour market; Firm downsizing