Health trends in the wake of the financial crisis—increasing inequalities?


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Aim: The financial crisis that hit Europe in 2007–2008 and the corresponding austerity policies have generated concern about increasing health inequalities, although impacts have been less salient than initially expected. One explanation could be that health inequalities emerged first a few years into the crisis. This study investigates health trends in the wake of the financial crisis and analyses health inequalities across a number of relevant population subgroups, including those defined by employment status, age, family type, gender, and educational attainment. Methods: This study uses individual-level panel data (EU-SILC, 2010–2013) to investigate trends in self-rated health. By applying individual fixed effects regression models, the study estimates the average yearly change in self-rated health for persons aged 15–64 years in 28 European countries. Health inequalities are investigated using stratified analyses. Results: Unemployed respondents, particularly those who were unemployed in all years of observation, had a steeper decline in self-rated health than the employed. Respondents of prime working age (25–54 years) had a steeper decline than their younger (15–24) and older (55–64) counterparts, while single parents had a more favorable trend in self-rated health than dual parents. We did not observe any increasing health inequalities based on gender or educational attainment. Conclusions: Health inequalities increased in the wake of the financial crisis, especially those associated with employment status, age, and family type. We did not observe increasing health inequalities in terms of levels of educational attainment and gender.




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