The Glasgow Effect

Scotland, as a whole, does not hold a positive reputation in terms of health; being known as ‘The Sick Man of Europe’ it has the poorest health and lowest life expectancy in the whole of Western Europe. The Glasgow Effect refers to the links between poor health and deprivation. It discusses that within Scotland the negative links of poor health and mortality are at such a higher level above that which is explained by socio-economic circumstances.

Research conducted in 2010 compared Glasgow to two other cities, Liverpool and Manchester, whom have similar deprivation levels. The results show the deprivation profiles of Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester to be almost identical. Despite this, premature deaths in Glasgow are more than 30% higher, with all deaths around 15% higher than in the other cities. This ‘excess’ mortality is seen across virtually the whole population: all ages (except the very young), both males and females, in deprived and non-deprived neighbourhoods. The effect is most fascinating due to the ‘excess’ mortality growing in the last 40 years indicating that the ‘Glasgow Effect’ is a recent issue.

Given that Scotland does have culture variables which contribute to poor health (deep fried foods, binge drinking, smoking etc) these factors were taken into consideration and even controlled Scots were found to have a 50% higher risk of being diagnosed with ischaemic heart disease compared to those in England. Throughout the report a number of social variables were compared to find if one in particular could pinpoint the cause of the mortality gap but it found that lone parent, teenage pregnancies, alcohol consumption, smoking prevalence, age demographics, healthy eating, ethnic populations, etc but all numbers were pretty much on par, with Glasgow faring better in some circumstances.

However, just the other week the Herald Scotland reported on new findings by scholars who cause of the Glasgow Effect. The report said to be published later this week is said to accuse the effect to have been socially engineered by Westminster; taking the skilled workers, young families and investors out of Glasgow leaving the old, poor and almost unemployable in the city. As well as this, the report accuses the councils of abusing improving housing focusing more on investing on the city centre ignoring the issue of overcrowding. I’m quite interested in how this pans out and how the Government responds to the accusations.

Side note: another factor of interest for me is that one of the co-authors is from the university I study at.


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