Health inequalities according to educational level in different welfare regimes: a comparison of 23 European countries

Terje Eikemo, M Huisman, C Bambra, Anton Kunst

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The object of this study was to determine whether the magnitude of educational health inequalities varies between European countries with different welfare regimes. The data source is based on the first and second wave of the European Social Survey. The first health indicator describes people's mental and physical health in general, while the second reports cases of any limiting longstanding illness. Educational inequalities in health were measured as the difference in health between people with an average number of years of education and people whose educational years lay one standard deviation below the national average. Moreover, South European welfare regimes had the largest health inequalities, while countries with Bismarckian welfare regimes tended to demonstrate the smallest. Although the other welfare regimes ranked relatively close to each other, the Scandinavian welfare regimes were placed less favourably than the Anglo-Saxon and East European. Thus, this study shows an evident patterning of magnitudes of health inequalities according to features of European welfare regimes. Although the greater distribution of welfare benefits within the Scandinavian countries are likely to have a protective effect for disadvantaged cities in these countries, other factors such as relative deprivation and class-patterned health behaviours might be acting to widen health inequalities.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)565-582
Number of pages18
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Research programs

  • EMC NIHES-02-65-02

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