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The recent economic recession and self-rated health in Estonia, Lithuania and Finland: a comparative cross-sectional study in 2004-2010
University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia .
National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Helsinki, Finland .
Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Kaunas, Lithuania .
National Institute for Health Development, Tallinn, Estonia .
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2014 (English)In: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, ISSN 0143-005X, E-ISSN 1470-2738, Vol. 68, no 11, 1072-1079 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

BACKGROUND: The late-2000s financial crisis had a severe impact on the national economies on a global scale. In Europe, the Baltic countries were among those most affected with more than a 20% decrease in per capita gross domestic product in 2008-2009. In this study, we explored the effects of economic recession on self-rated health in Estonia and Lithuania using Finland, a neighbouring Nordic welfare state, as a point of reference.

METHODS: Nationally representative cross-sectional data for Estonia (n=10 966), Lithuania (n=7249) and Finland (n=11 602) for 2004-2010 were analysed for changes in age-standardised prevalence rates of less-than-good self-rated health and changes in health inequalities using logistic regression analysis.

RESULTS: The prevalence of less-than-good self-rated health increased slightly (albeit not statistically significantly) in all countries during 2008-2010. This was in sharp contrast to the statistically significant decline in the prevalence of less-than-good health in 2004-2008 in Estonia and Lithuania. Health disparities were larger in Estonia and Lithuania when compared to Finland, but decreased in 2008-2010 (in men only). In Finland, both the prevalence of less-than-good health and health disparities remained fairly stable throughout the period.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite the rapid economic downturn, the short-term health effects in Estonia and Lithuania did not differ from those in Finland, although the recession years marked the end of the previous positive trend in self-rated health. The reduction in health disparities during the recession indicates that different socioeconomic groups were affected disproportionately; however, the reasons for this require further research.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 68, no 11, 1072-1079 p.
National Category
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-24377DOI: 10.1136/jech-2014-204196ISI: 000343225800011PubMedID: 25031451ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84911376934OAI: diva2:739257
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, A052-10
Available from: 2014-08-20 Created: 2014-08-18 Last updated: 2016-10-10Bibliographically approved

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