Relation of economic change to Swedish health and social well-being, 1950-1980

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To what extent, and through what mechanisms, does the deterioration of economic conditions affect the health of the population at the national level? In this paper, the author presents the results of a study of Swedish data, analyzing the post-World War II changes in mortality rates in relation to deleterious economic changes, especially unemployment, business failure rates, and declines in real per capita income. The analysis uses a version of the 'Economic Change Model of Pathology' which includes the influence of health risks related to patterns of consumption and production. It is found that economic growth plays a principal role in reducing mortality at nearly all ages, and specifically mortality due to total cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, total heart disease, ischemic heart disease, total malignancies, disorders of infancy, and motor vehicle accidents. Economic recession, by contrast, is related to increases in total mortality for virtually all age groups, in both sexes, for major causes of death and causes due to psychopathological conditions. Per capita alcohol consumption, by specific beverage, is an important risk to mortality rates in cerebrovascular disease, malignancies, cirrhosis, motor vehicle accidents, suicide, homicide, and infant diseases. Cigarette consumption rates are positively related to mortality due to cardiovascular, malignant, and infant diseases; fat consumption rates are positively related to cardiovascular and cancer mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-195
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1987


  • alcohol
  • economic change
  • mortality
  • stress
  • unemployment


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