In this report, the researchers Eva Mörk, Anna Sjögren and Helena Svaleryd study to what extent children’s health is affected by the economic and social situation of the family. The authors have analysed the relationship between background and health today as compared to the beginning of the 1990’s.
There are large differences in health among children in Sweden and these differences are related to parents’ income and education. Children of parents who receive economic assistance from the municipality are particularly vulnerable. These children are ill to a considerably larger extent as compared to other children.
These are some of the conclusions of the research report Better to Be Rich and Healthy: Family Background and Children’s Health. In this report, the researchers EVA MÖRK, ANNA SJÖGREN and HELENA SVALERYD study to what extent children’s health is affected by the economic and social situation of the family. The authors have analysed the relationship between background and health today as compared to the beginning of the 1990’s.
The study shows large social gaps in children’s health. Children of parents with the highest incomes and education have a 40-45 per cent lower probability of being admitted to hospital as compared to children of those parents with the lowest income and education.
The researchers have also studied children in families that receive economic support from the municipality. These children are particularly subjected to health problems:
They run twice as large a risk of dying in childhood as compared to other children, which corresponds to almost 24 more children per 100 000.
They run a 40 per cent larger risk of being admitted to hospital, which corresponds to 20 more children per 1 000.
They run almost three times as large a risk of being admitted to hospital due to mental illness.
The researchers also find that health in childhood is of great importance for school results and whether one becomes dependent on economic assistance as an adult. Among those who have been admitted to hospital due to mental illness, it is four times as common to be dependent on economic support at the age of 23.
– Improving children’s health and neutralising differences in health is an investment in both children’s wellbeing and their future. There might be large economic gains if we can prevent and combat ill health among children at an early stage, according to Eva Mörk, Professor at Uppsala University.
This report is the first within the framework of the SNS research programme Investments in Equal Opportunities in Life. The objective of the programme is to contribute information based on research about how investments in early efforts for children and young people can contribute to increased economic efficiency.
EVA MÖRK, Professor Uppsala University
ANNA SJÖGREN, Associate Professor IFAU
HELENA SVALERYD, Associate Professor Uppsala University
Voices on the report
The research report was presented at an SNS breakfast seminar on October 3 2014.
“This is a very important report. It shows challenges for society that have not been dealt with correctly for a long period of time. Save the Children has followed the work on the report with great interest. An important conclusion of the report is that Sweden needs to reinforce mental health care.”
AGNETA ÅHLUND, Head of the Sweden Programme of Save the Children.
“Congratulations to a very good report. There is not enough data on these questions and, moreover, it is difficult to get hold of it. The results of the report on children in the most exposed groups are important. This is a message that should be sent out to all new politicians. We must become better at capturing children in the risk area, for example by asking parents who apply for economic assistance how their children are doing. The social differences in health are large and they have consequences later in life.”
ING-MARIE WIESELGREN, Psychiatric Coordinator at The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions
EVA MÖRK, firstname.lastname@example.org
ANNA SJÖGREN, email@example.com
HELENA SVALERYD, firstname.lastname@example.org