Politics and health outcomes

Lancet. 2006 Sep 16;368(9540):1033-7. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(06)69341-0.


The aim of this study was to examine the complex interactions between political traditions, policies, and public health outcomes, and to find out whether different political traditions have been associated with systematic patterns in population health over time. We analysed a number of political, economic, social, and health variables over a 50-year period, in a set of wealthy countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Our findings support the hypothesis that the political ideologies of governing parties affect some indicators of population health. Our analysis makes an empirical link between politics and policy, by showing that political parties with egalitarian ideologies tend to implement redistributive policies. An important finding of our research is that policies aimed at reducing social inequalities, such as welfare state and labour market policies, do seem to have a salutary effect on the selected health indicators, infant mortality and life expectancy at birth.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Political Systems*
  • Politics*
  • United States
  • Vital Statistics*