Mortality and economic instability: Detailed analyses for Britain and comparative analyses for selected industrialized countries

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This paper discusses a first-stage analysis of the link of unemployment rates, as well as other economic, social and environmental health risk factors, to mortality rates in postwar Britian. The results presented represent part of an international study of the impact of economic change on mortality patterns in industrialized countries. The mortality patterns examined include total and infant mortality and (by cause) cardiovascular (total), cerebrovascular and heart disease, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide, homicide and motor vehicle accidents. Among the most prominent factors, that beneficially influence postwar mortality patterns in England/Wales and Scotland are economic growth and stability and health service availability. A principal detrimental factor to health is a high rate of unemployment. Additional factors that have an adverse influence on mortality rates are cigarette consumption and heavy alcohol use and unusually cold winter temperatures (especially in Scotland). The model of mortality that includes both economic changes and behavioral and environmental risk factors was successfully applied to infant mortality rates in the interwar period. In addition, the 'simple' economic change model of mortality (using only economic indicators) was applied to other industrialized countries. In Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Sweden, the simple version of the economic change model could be successfully applied only if the analysis was begun before World War II; for analysis beginning in the postwar era, the more sophisticated economic change model, including behavioral and environmental risk factors, was required. In France, West Germany, Italy, and Spain, by contrast, some success was achieved using the simple economic change model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)563-620
Number of pages58
JournalInternational Journal of Health Services
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1983


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