Economic change and sex-specific cardiovascular mortality in Britain 1955-1976

M. Harvey Brenner, Anne Mooney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Analyses directed toward recent declines in cardiovascular disease mortality rates have typically focused on alterations in important physiological and behavioral risk factors resulting from lifestyle changes and medical advances. In this study, a multivariate model of the impact of more fundamental changes in the socioeconomic and bio-physical environments has been developed and applied to cardiovascular disease mortality rates, by sex, in England and Wales and Scotland during 1955-1976. The predictive model includes factors associated with (1) long-term growth in the economy, (2) deleterious behavioral risk factors loosely associated with economic growth-especially cigarette consumption per capita, (3) economic instability-especially recession as indicated by factors related to unemployment, income loss, and recessional declines in average weekly hours worked in manufacturing industries, (4) health care, and (5) physical environmental disturbances-especially very cold temperatures. This model proves to be an excellent instrument for the statistical explanation of trends and fluctuations in CVD mortality rates for both sexes and both regions in Britain in the post-War period. In general, the overall exponential rate of economic growth is found to be the most powerful factor in the long-term decline in CVD mortality rates. Similarly, disturbances to the national and regional economic situations-especially recessions-have regularly been associated with elevated death rates for all populations observed. Cigarette and unusually high spirits consumption, as well as particularly cold winter temperatures, have also had important deleterious effects on CVD mortality. The proportion of government expenditures devoted to health care is associated with a reduction in CVD mortality in England and Wales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-442
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1982


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