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Recommodification, unemployment, and health inequalities: Trends in England and Sweden 1991-2011

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Clare BambraORCiD, Emeritus Prof David Hunter


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© The Author(s) 2016. Recommodification, the withdrawal of social welfare, has been going on for some decades in both Sweden and England. Recommodification disproportionately affects the unemployed because of their weak market position. We investigated the impact recommodification has had on health inequalities between the employed and unemployed in Sweden and England. Using national surveys, odds ratios for the likelihood of reporting less than good health between the employed and unemployed were computed annually between 1991 and 2011. The correlation between these odds ratios and net replacement rates was then examined. Health inequalities between the employed and unemployed were greater in 2011 than in 1991 in both countries. Sweden began with smaller health inequalities, but by 2011, they were in line with those in England. Sweden experienced more recommodification than England during this period, although it started from a much less commodified position. Correspondingly, correlation between unemployment benefit generosity and health inequalities was stronger in Sweden than in England. Recommodification is linked to ill health among the unemployed and to the health gap between the employed and unemployed. We propose that further recommodification will be associated with increased health inequalities between the employed and unemployed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Farrants K, Bambra C, Nylen L, Kasim A, Burstrom B, Hunter D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Health Services

Year: 2016

Volume: 46

Issue: 2

Pages: 300-324

Print publication date: 01/04/2016

Online publication date: 21/03/2016

Acceptance date: 01/01/1900

ISSN (print): 0020-7314

ISSN (electronic): 1541-4469

Publisher: SAGE Publications Inc.


DOI: 10.1177/0020731416637829

PubMed id: 27000134


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