Socio-demographic risk factors of COVID-19 deaths in Sweden: A nationwide register study

As global deaths from COVID-19 continue to rise, the world’s governments, institutions, and agencies are still working toward an understanding of who is most at risk of death. Owing to the special provision of new data from the Swedish authorities, we have access to data on all recorded COVID-19 deaths in Sweden up to May 7, 2020 linked to high-quality and accurate individual-level background data from administrative registers. Using individual-level survival analysis we demonstrate that being male, having less disposable income, a lower education level, not being married, and being an immigrant from a low- or middle-income country all independently predict a higher risk of death from COVID-19. We also observe differences in these patterns between working age and retirement age individuals. The role of socio-economic characteristics is more pronounced at working ages, whereas the role of one’s marital status is more pronounced at retirement ages. The main message is that COVID-19 discriminates, exerting an unequal burden on the most disadvantaged and vulnerable members of society.