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What can public health do for the welfare state? Occupational health could be an answer
  1. Fernando G Benavides1,2,
  2. Consol Serra1,2,
  3. George L Delclos1,3
  1. 1 Center for Research in Occupational Health, Universitat Pompeu Fabra IMIM PSMar, CIBER of Epidemiology and Public Health, Barcelona, Spain
  2. 2 Departament of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health, Houston, Texas, USA
  3. 3 Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health, Houston, Texas, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Fernando G Benavides, Center for Research in Occupational Health, Universitat Pompeu Fabra IMIM PSMar, CIBER of Epidemiology and Public Health, Barcelona, 08003, Spain; fernando.benavides{at}upf.edu

Abstract

Background The welfare state has a long history of uncertain future. Nonetheless, health indicators of people living in countries with a more universal and generous welfare state remain better than those living under less generous and more individualist welfare regimes. In this essay, we reflect on how occupational health, as part of public health, can contribute to the sustainability of the welfare state.

Methods Over the course of the political and social transformations of the State, from single guarantor of security to assuming civil and social rights, the practice of public health has added, to its original objectives related to the control of epidemics of contagious diseases, the promotion of health and the reduction of inequalities in health. In the context of the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development Goals, there is a great opportunity to expand the welfare state through public health policies.

Results On the other hand, the welfare state is only possible when persons are employed in the formal sector. Through their taxes, workers and employers support the welfare state. Occupational health, by preventing injury and illness, and promoting the health of working people, can contribute significantly to the existence of decent work and a quality labour market.

Conclusion The mission of occupational health is to help people enjoy a healthy and prolonged working life, as a critical component of human well-being.

  • employment
  • social epidemiology
  • workplace
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Footnotes

  • Contributors FGB wrote a first draft and CS and GD reviewed and discussed different versions and approved the final version.

  • Funding This study has been partially financed by the State Plan for Investigation, Development, and Innovation 2013-2016, by the Health Institute Carlos III – Subdirection General of Evaluation and Promotion of Research (Grants FIS PI 17/00220 and PI14_00057), by the European Regional Development Fund-FEDER and the CIBER in Epidemiology and Public Health-CIBERESP. Partial support for GLD was also provided by Grant No. T42OH008421 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention /NIOSH.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement There are no data in this work.

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