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Social status and health inequality in the nordic welfare model

Project managerSnorre Kverndokk
ClientNorges forskningsråd
Client project no.
ParticipantsKjell Arne Brekke
Leo Grünfeld
Period2005 - 2006 (ended)

Project description

Several empirical papers have indicated that the health inequalities in the Nordic welfare states seem to be no less than health inequalities in other European countries even if they have a more egalitarian income structure. This is in contrast to standard economic theory that predicts that income equality should lead to health equality everything else equal. This project consists of two parts. In the first part we will write a survey of the literature. In the second part, we establish an economic model that may explain why a welfare state may produce more health inequality than more class orientated societies. The model tries to formalize one of the explanations that have been suggested, using the content of cognitive stress explanations of the link between status and health, adding elements of information economics. In a hypothetical completely egalitarian society where all individuals have equal opportunities, there is no one else to blame for lack of success. By contrast, in a completely class structured society, socio-economic positions are determined at birth, and give no information about personal qualities. We assume that cognitive stress associated with low status is stronger when lack of success is due to personal failures than when status is determined at birth.


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