Life chances after surgery of congenital heart disease : a case-control-study of inter- and intragenerational social mobility over 15 years.


Patients of congenital heart disease surgery have good prospects for reaching old age. Against the backdrop of increasing life expectancies, the question of how well such patients are mastering daily routines and their working life emerges. In our study, the educational and occupational performance of patients over 15 years was examined.


Intergenerational social mobility (changes in social positions from the parental generation to the generation of children) was examined in terms of education, and intragenerational social mobility (changes in positions within the same generation, i.e., in individuals over their life courses) was examined in terms of occupational positions. Comparisons were made between patients and a control group drawn from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). Controls were drawn from respondents who participated in the 2004 and 2018 SOEP surveys.


The data were from 244 out of 360 patients (68%) with complete social data from the first survey (2003-2004) and who were included in the follow-up (2017-2019), and 238 controls were drawn from the SOEP. At the time of the second survey, subjects' ages ranged from 28 to 59 years of age (M = 40.1 years). Intergenerational educational mobility did not differ between cases and controls. For intragenerational social mobility, downward changes were more frequent among controls. This latter finding may be explained by patients retiring earlier than the general population. Retirement rates increased over time, particularly among patients with severe congenital malformations. Unemployment rates were also higher among patients.


Taken together, although a considerable proportion of patients with congenital heart disease retired prematurely or never entered the labour force, their educational and occupational careers proceeded more favourably than expected.


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