Demographic Analysis of Socioeconomic Health Inequalities in Catalonia in the Context of the Latest Economic Crisis: Gender, Generation and Territory

Jordi Bayona-i-Carrasco, CED, Barcelona
Antonio Medina, Centre d'Estudis Demogràfics
Tere Menacho, Centre d'Estudis Demogràfics
Jeroen Spijker, Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB)

The economic crisis hit Catalonia in 2008 and its impact has led to a growing concern for population health in the medium and short term. Concomitantly, the new economic context and EU pressures have meant budget reductions by public administrations to meet public deficit objectives. However, budget cuts compromise the functioning of public health and therefore the health of individuals as they cannot receive the same benefits in medical assistance as before. This is especially the case for the most unfavourable groups.

Perhaps paradoxically however, the relationship between economic crisis and health status at the population level is still unclear as studies have shown contradictory results. The present study therefore aims to analyse socioeconomic health inequalities, paying specific attention to the impact of both an economic boom and bust. Using data from the Catalan Health Survey (ESCA) for the years 2002 (pre-boom), 2006 (boom), 2010-12 (early crisis) and 2013-15 (late crisis) the main research question addressed is whether “economic up- and downturns affect the association between socioeconomic factors and different health and behavioural indicators”. Regarding the latter, these include self-reported health, mental health, GALI, physical activity and the consumption of tobacco, alcohol and medicines. The 50+ population is studied and individual-level data are used.

Preliminary results show little change in self-reported health up to the economic boom among men and a substantial worsening among women. Improvements are observed during the economic crisis among both sexes, especially among lower SES categories. Mental health worsened during the early-crisis period but improved greatly during the late-crisis period for both the employed and non-employed. Among the non-employed, mental health also worsened during the boom-years.

While low SES groups have worse health than high SES groups, changes are mainly anti-cyclical. Results on other health indicators and policy implications will be discussed in final paper.

Presented in Poster Session 3