GPI Seminar Series: Ms. Kristin Farrants
‘Commodification’ is the term used to describe a process in which access to vital goods and services depends on market position. Welfare states decommodify by providing services and cash benefits to everyone, regardless of market position. Over the last several decades, welfare states have undergone structural changes, in a process known as ‘recommodification’. Public services have been exposed to market forces and privatised, and social security has been retrenched. This means that people’s standards of living depend more closely on their market position. Since health is influenced by social factors, we expect that this increase in inequalities in living standards is reflected in increased health inequalities. I have compared levels of decommodification between 1991 and 2011 in Sweden and England, two European countries with different welfare state configurations. I sought to determine whether and, if so, how recommodification affects health inequalities, and I have related the degree of recommodification to trends in health inequalities. Preliminary findings show that Sweden experienced both greater increases in health inequalities and higher recommodification than England during this period. Correspondingly, the correlation between recommodification and health inequalities was stronger in Sweden than in England.
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