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In recent years we have witnessed an increasing recognition of the political nature of population health.1–3 The fields of comparative social epidemiology and health policy research have experienced a surge since 2000.3–6 Among the most consistent set of findings brought about by this field of research has been an association between characteristics of the welfare state (that is, the mix of market, state and family in a country’s provision of goods and services) and population health.4 7–12 Most of these studies have followed the seminal work of Esping-Andersen13 and other authors14 15 that are in the tradition of power resources perspective.16 As a typology, Esping-Andersen classifies welfare states into three major types: social-democratic welfare states characterised by a high degree of “decommodification” (where more goods and services are provided by the state and fewer by the market); corporatist-conservative welfare states that emphasise the role of the family in addition to some state provision of services; …
Competing interests: None.
↵i While this paper is not the place to critique these previous achievements in the field, excellent works, conducted by, for example, Dr Ian Gough, use outcomes of the social structure then the determinants of those outcomes as explanatory factors. While this is an important contribution to the field of yet-to-develop and comparative public policy, we believe these outcomes of welfare, health care, wellbeing and health should be placed in a sound theoretical context to predict population health status and, more importantly, explain why that happens.