Economic crisis and health inequalities: evidence from the European Union

The recent economic crisis has been a major shock not only to the economic sector, but also to the rest of society. Our main objective in this paper is to show the impact of the economic crisis on convergence, i.e. the reduction or equalising of disparities, among the EU-27 countries in terms of health. The aim is to observe whether the economic crisis (from 2008 onwards) has in fact had an effect on health inequalities within the EU. Methods We estimate convergence by specifying a dynamic panel model with random-effects (time, regions and countries). We are particularly interested in σ-convergence. As dependent variables, we use life expectancy, total mortality and (cause-specific) mortality in the regions of the EU-27 countries over the period 1995–2011. Results The results of the analysis show that, in terms of health, there has been a catching-up process among the EU regions. However, we find no reduction, on average, in dispersion levels as the σ-convergence shows. The main finding of this paper has been the sharp increase in disparities in 2010 for all health outcomes (albeit less abrupt for cancer mortality). Conclusion This increase in disparities in 2010 coincides with the austerity measures implemented in the EU countries. Our main conclusion is that these austerity measures have had an impact on socioeconomic inequalities ​
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