Underlying influences on health and mortality trends in post-industrial regions of Europe

Daniels, Gordon A. (2014) Underlying influences on health and mortality trends in post-industrial regions of Europe. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3085670


This Thesis is part of a wider programme of work being pursued by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH) which is examining health outcomes in West Central Scotland and other post-industrial regions throughout Europe.

Scotland‘s health has been improving since the industrial revolution but its position relative to improving trends within Europe has been deteriorating. This is recent, dating from the period since the Second World War and becoming more problematical over the past three decades. While deprivation is a fundamental determinant of health, in the case of Scotland (and particularly West Central Scotland (WCS)) it does not explain the entire extent of the higher levels of mortality. There is, of course, a well established link between deindustrialisation, deprivation and poor health. However, the unexplained additional mortality in Scotland and WCS (the Scottish Effect) compared to other similar post-industrial regions and the time scale of Scotland‘s worsening relative health status, require further investigation. Other research has examined this question using a range of well established public health principles and methods. This thesis adds to this understanding by providing a comparative analysis of the political and socioeconomic contexts for the observed mortality trends.

Post-industrial change is discussed at three levels. These are (i) International regions – Eastern Europe and Western Europe (ii) Countries – Scotland within the UK is compared with two Eastern European (Poland and the Czech Republic) and two Western European (France and Germany) countries. (iii) Regions within countries that have been subject to deindustrialisation. Five post-industrial regions are investigated (West Central Scotland, The Ruhr, Germany, Nord Pas-de-Calais, France, Katowice, Poland and Northern Moravia, Czech Republic). These regions were selected because they are analogous in their experience of deindustrialisation but diverse in their political and socioeconomic histories.

The main aim of the thesis is to determine what aspects of the political and socioeconomic context in WCS have diverged from comparable post-industrial regions of Europe and whether these might form the basis of potential explanations for the region‘s poor health record. Two methods were employed. First, a detailed narrative literature review was undertaken to examine political and socioeconomic change in the post-war period at the national level with a particular focus on policy responses to deindustrialisation. Second, case studies were conducted on the five regions listed above. These examined political and socioeconomic changes in each of the five regions in some detail using published data and a variety of literatures as source materials. In this way a rich but diverse picture of economic restructuring as a response to deindustrialisation emerged. Insights from the literature review and case studies were then brought together to formulate some conclusions about why health in WCS has suffered more adverse effects than in the other four regions.

This thesis has shown that there was a broad correspondence between life expectancy and the socioeconomic/political success of states in Central East Europe and Western Europe during the 20th Century. When states prosper and their governments enjoy the confidence of the population, health improves. In all the countries covered in this analysis, deindustrialisation damaged health and slowed improvements in life expectancy (in some cases putting it into reverse). The institutional path dependencies and country-specific factors outlined in this thesis help to explain the divergence in policy responses and subsequent economic development that can be observed in each of the five regions and their parent countries. The five countries and regions have each taken a different approach to deindustrialisation, have varied in the levels of social protection provided and each manifests a very different context. In response to economic restructuring (and associated social costs), policy in WCS (and the UK) has focused primarily on narrow economic growth policies, emphasising employment and physical regeneration, but not social outcomes such as community cohesion and sustainability.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: social determinants of health, health and mortality trends, economic development, deindustrialisation, post-industrial change, economic restructuring, varieties of capitalism, production regimes, regional geography
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Public Health
Supervisor's Name: Hanlon, Professor Phil
Date of Award: 2014
Depositing User: Dr G.A. Daniels
Unique ID: glathesis:2014-5697
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2014 11:18
Last Modified: 30 Oct 2014 11:20
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/5697

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