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Journal of Environmental and Public HealthVolume 2013 2013, Article ID 915490, 15 pages

Research Article

Centre for Health Equity Studies CHESS, Stockholm University-Karolinska Institutet, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

The Social Insurance Institution of Finland KELA, P.O. Box 450, 00101 Helsinki, Finland

Received 23 October 2012; Revised 16 April 2013; Accepted 22 April 2013

Academic Editor: Ivo Iavicoli

Copyright © 2013 Johan Fritzell et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A prime objective of welfare state activities is to take action to enhance population health and to decrease mortality risks. For several centuries, poverty has been seen as a key social risk factor in these respects. Consequently, the fight against poverty has historically been at the forefront of public health and social policy. The relationship between relative poverty rates and population health indicators is less self-evident, notwithstanding the obvious similarity to the debated topic of the relationship between population health and income inequality. In this study we undertake a comparative analysis of the relationship between relative poverty and mortality across 26 countries over time, with pooled cross-sectional time series analysis. We utilize data from the Luxembourg Income Study to construct age-specific poverty rates across countries and time covering the period from around 1980 to 2005, merged with data on age- and gender-specific mortality data from the Human Mortality Database. Our results suggest not only an impact of relative poverty but also clear differences by welfare regime that partly goes beyond the well-known differences in poverty rates between welfare regimes.

Author: Johan Fritzell, Olli Kangas, Jennie Bacchus Hertzman, Jenni Blomgren, and Heikki Hiilamo



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