The rare disease neurofibromatosis 1 as a source of hereditary economic inequality: Evidence from Finland

Edvard Johansson, Roope A. Kallionpää, Petri Böckerman, Sirkku Peltonen, Juha Peltonen*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose: This study investigated whether individuals with neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) fare worse than individuals without NF1 in terms of economic well-being. NF1 is relatively common in the population and provides an informative case of a rare hereditary disease. Methods: We examined a subset of 692 individuals with verified NF1 from the Finnish total population-based NF1 cohort and compared that with 7407 control individuals matched for age, sex, and municipality during 1997-2014. Economic well-being was operationalized with annual work earnings and total income, including social income transfers. Results: NF1 significantly worsened economic well-being. Low education, increased morbidity, and reduced labor market participation partly explained the effect of NF1. Yet, NF1 was independently associated with lower income even after adjusting for these factors. Furthermore, NF1 had a larger negative effect on income from work than it had on total income, which indicated that the Finnish social security system partly compensated the labor market losses suffered by individuals with NF1. NF1 had a larger impact on economic inequality for men than for women. Conclusion: NF1 contributes to economic inequality. A hereditary disease may convey worse economic well-being over several generations.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalGenetics in Medicine
    Publication statusPublished - 2021
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Neurofibromatosis
    • Nordic model
    • Rare diseases
    • Social income transfers
    • Wages


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