Social-democratic government and health policy in Europe: a quantitative analysis

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Although health policy ultimately depends on political decision making, empirical evidence of the impact of politics on implementation of health policies and their population health outcomes is scarce. In this study, we assess the effects of social-democratic government participation on indicators of preventive health policy (tobacco, alcohol, food, mother and child health, infectious diseases, hypertension, cancer screening, road traffic safety, air pollution) in Europe. Cumulative years of social-democratic government differed widely between European countries, as did indicators of current health policy performance, but the latter are not associated with recent social-democratic government. However, there is a positive association with social-democratic government cumulated over five decades. Positive effects of social-democratic government are mainly seen on indicators of tobacco and alcohol control. We conclude that long-term social-democratic government participation may have had a positive impact on some areas of preventive health policy, perhaps through the creation of strong public health institutions or a strong public health workforce.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)389-413
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Health Services
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Research programs

  • EMC NIHES-02-65-02

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