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Durham University

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Winners and losers in contrasting labour markets? Socio-economic and spatial inequalities in the population health effects of economic recession and economic growth, BUPA Foundation, £130,000 (2010-2014)

A research project of the Department of Geography.


There is a significant body of research about the effects of economic recessions on the health of individuals, particularly those who experience unemployment. However, the more general public health effects of recessions on the wider community, and the variation of such effects by local labour market context and country setting has received less attention. Research on the social determinants of health has not examined whether there are variations between individuals or between areas in the health effects of periods of sustained economic growth. This comparative international research project examines the individual and wider community health effects of periods of economic growth and economic recession in two contrasting developed countries (UK and Sweden) for the period of 1991 to 2005. Specifically it examines whether there are socio-economic and spatial inequalities in the health effects and whether such effects vary by country with differing national labour market regulatory and social policy frameworks. We compare health effects in different economic cycles to see whether relationships are consistent over time. The project highlights the potential role of area based interventions in closing the health gaps and will inform the formulation of macro level public health policies.

Dr Clare Bambra has been funded by the BUPA foundation to lead this 2 year comparative project. The project is joint between the Department of Geography, Durham University (Clare Bambra, Mylene Riva and Sarah Curtis), and the Equity and Health Policy Research Group, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm (Lotta Nylen, Bo Burstom and Antonio de Ponce Leon).


The project is funded by the following grant.

  • Winners And Losers In Contrasting Labour Markets. Socio-economic And Spatial Inequalities In The Population Health Effects Of Economic Recession And Economic Growth (£132297.00 from BUPA)

Published Results

Journal Article

  • Copeland, A., Kasim, A. & Bambra, C. (2015). Grim up North or Northern Grit? Recessions and the English spatial health divide (1991-2010). Journal of Public Health 37(1): 34-39.
  • Riva.M., Bambra, C., Easton, S. & Curtis,S. (2011). Hard times or good times? Inequalities in the health effects of economic change. International Journal of Public Health 56(1): 3-5


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