How will the financial crisis affect health?
Global recession can damage health but it offers an opportunity to build a more equitable economic model
- By: M G Marmot, Ruth Bell
The financial crisis intrudes daily from the newspapers. The breakfast table is littered with quantitative easing and credit-default swaps, stimulus packages, and bank bailouts. But is there a link between the financial crisis dominating the front page and the health stories on the inside? The Commission on Social Determinants of Health certainly believed so. Its starting point was that the economic and social features of society are closely linked to the distribution of health within and between countries.1 The social determinants of health are the circumstances of daily life—the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age—and the structural drivers of those conditions (unfair distribution of power, money, and resources). Both the conditions of daily life and the structural drivers will be influenced by the financial crisis.
We cannot improve the living conditions of people who are relatively disadvantaged without money. For example, globally, nearly 1 billion