English title: Right-wing populism and self-rated health in Europe: a multilevel analysis

Author(s): Insa Backhaus - Shiho Kino - Giuseppe La Torre - Ichiro Kawachi -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2019


Background Individuals who identify as politically conservative have been previously shown to report better self-rated health compared with liberals. We tested whether this association still holds for right-wing populists, which are gaining strength as a political force in Europe in recent decades. Methods: We analysed data from 24617 respondents nested within 18 European countries included in the 2016 European Social Survey. Multilevel analyses were conducted to assess the association between political ideology and self-rated health, adjusting for otherindividual covariates (happiness and social capital). Results: Individuals who voted for right-wing populist parties were 43% more likely to report fair/poor health compared with traditional conservatives (OR=1.43, 95% CI 1.23 to 1.67). The association was attenuated (OR=1.21, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.42) after controlling for additional individual-level variables, including happinessand access to social capital. Higher levels of social capital (informal networks, OR=0.40, 95% CI 0.29 to 0.56; trust, OR=0.82, 95% CI 0.74 to 0.92) and happiness (OR=0.18, 95% CI 0.15 to 0.22) were protectively correlated with fair/poor self-rated health. Conclusions: Individuals voting for right-wing populist parties report worse health compared with conservatives. It remains unclear whether ideology is just a marker for health-related practices, or whether the values and beliefs associated with a particular brand of ideology lead to worse health.

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DOI: 10.1136/JECH-2018- 211995

Journal: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health