Four types of government have been studied in regards to population health: social democratic, Christian democratic, liberal and conservative/ fascists.
· Social Democratic
o Inequality addressed through social programs
o Universal health care coverage & social benefits
§ Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Austria
· Christian Democratic
o Fewer redistributive policies
o Universal health care coverage
o But much emphasis on family caregiving (i.e., private vs. public $$$)
§ Italy, Netherlands, West Germany, Belgium, France
o Few redistributive policies; lower social expenditures
o Social programs tend to be means-tested (averages)
§ UK, Ireland, Canada, USA
o Underdeveloped welfare states; poor social program
o Very unequal income distribution
o Implementation of democracy (1970s) improved these situations
§ Spain, Portugal, Greece
As you move down from social democratic to conservative/fascist less and less is spent on the public; this creates a greater divide amongst individual due to differences in income. The greater divide leads to differing interests of different social classes which increase competition for commodities and jobs. This all leads to increased social mistrust. Greater income inequality is correlated with greater population mortality mediated by social mistrust.
The solution is simple, but hard to swallow. Increase redistribution of income amongst a population which will increase the overall population’s health. This is done of course by increased taxation and greater government involvement. But, hey can’t put a price tag on one’s health, right?
Ichiro Kawachi, et al., “Social Capital, Income Inequality, and Mortality,” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 87, no. 9, 1491-1498.
Vincente Navarro, et al., “Politics and Health Outcomes,” Lancet, vol. 368 (2006): 1033-1035.