Exploring Inequality in Europe
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Exploring Inequality in Europe

Diverging Income and Employment Opportunities in the Crisis

Edited by Martin Heidenreich

Europe has become a dominant frame for the generation, regulation and perception of social inequalities. This trend was solidified by the current economic crisis, which is characterized by increasing inequalities between central and peripheral countries and groups. By analysing the double polarization between winners and losers of the crisis, the segmentation of labour markets and the perceived quality of life in Europe, this book contributes to a better understanding of patterns and dynamics of inequality in an integrated Europe.
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Chapter 7: The Europeanization of social determinants and health in the Great Recession

Sabine Israel

Abstract

This chapter adopts a transnational perspective to assess the health consequences of the Great Recession and its austerity policies for the population in the European peripheral countries. Physical, psycho-social and medical health determinants which commonly cause ill health among people with low income will be portrayed to expose the advance of adverse social conditions. The analysis is carried out by comparing EU-SILC data for the five countries subject to the Economic Adjustment Programme and the three Eastern European countries subject to the Balance of Payment Programme from 2006/2007 to 2011/2012. We find that deprivation, arrears and access to healthcare are worsening in the majority of the peripheral countries. The BoP countries Latvia and Romania display increased barriers to healthcare, while mortgage problems are turning into a problem in Ireland and Greece. Moreover, deprivation affected more than three-fifths of the population in Greece, Hungary and Latvia in 2011/2012. While the sharpest increase of adverse social determinants takes place in the lower income quintiles, the risk of self-perceived ill health for the poorest is overlapping with – and often even below – that of the second and third income quintiles, bringing the social gradient in health to its demise. Next to an improvement in the relative feeling of deprivation for the poorest, means-tested exemptions from payments of services such as healthcare can be a reason for this trend. They shift the cost burden towards higher income quintiles, putting pressure on the ‘twilight zone’ between the poor and the non-poor.

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