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How extractive industries affect health: Political economy underpinnings and pathways

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Ted Schrecker



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


A systematic and theoretically informed analysis of how extractive industries affect health outcomes and healthinequities is overdue. Informed by the work of Saskia Sassen on “logics of extraction,” we adopt an expansivedefinition of extractive industries to include (for example) large-scale foreign acquisitions of agricultural land forexport production. To ground our analysis in concrete place-based evidence, we begin with a brief review of fourcase examples of major extractive activities. We then analyze the political economy of extractivism, focusing onthe societal structures, processes, and relationships of power that drive and enable extraction. Next, we examinehow this global order shapes and interacts with politics, institutions, and policies at the state/national levelcontextualizing extractive activity. Having provided necessary context, we posit a set of pathways that link theglobal political economy and national politics and institutional practices surrounding extraction to health outcomesand their distribution. These pathways involve both direct health effects, such as toxic work and environmentalexposures and assassination of activists, and indirect effects, including sustained impoverishment,water insecurity, and stress-related ailments. We conclude with some reflections on the need for future researchon the health and health equity implications of the global extractive order.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Schrecker T, Birn A-E, Aguilera M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Health & Place

Year: 2018

Volume: 52

Pages: 135-147

Print publication date: 01/07/2018

Online publication date: 07/06/2018

Acceptance date: 15/05/2018

Date deposited: 10/06/2018

ISSN (print): 1353-8292

ISSN (electronic): 1873-2054

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2018.05.005


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