Democracy is good for your health

December 16, 2004

Freedom has become the political buzzword of the 21st century. Now that the surviving Afganis and Iraqis are enjoying the benefits of Western freedoms, what will this mean for their health?

A study in this week's Christmas issue of the BMJ finds that people living in democracies enjoy better health than those who must endure repressive regimes.

Using published freedom ratings, researchers explored the effect of democracy on life expectancy and mother and infant deaths in 170 countries, representing 98% of the world's population.

Overall, 45% of the countries were free, 32% partially free, and 24% not free. The highest levels of health were found in free countries, followed by the partially free countries, and the worst levels of health were in countries that were not free.

These results did not change after a country's wealth, level of inequity, and the size of its public sector were taken into account.

The underlying mechanisms for this association are still unknown, but the authors suggest that democracies allow for more space for social networks and pressure groups, opportunities for empowerment, better access to information, and better recognition by government of people's needs.

If this relation is confirmed, the extent of freedom of a country could provide a new approach to decreasing national mortality, they say.

Increasing democratisation may be a way to counteract the deleterious effect on health of the unequal distribution of economic resources on a global scale.
-end-


BMJ

Related Social Networks Articles from Brightsurf:

AI methods of analyzing social networks find new cell types in tissue
In situ sequencing enables gene activity inside body tissues to be depicted in microscope images.

Teen social networks linked to adult depression
Teens who have a larger number of friends may be less likely to suffer from depression later in life, especially women, a new MSU research study has found.

Drexel study: Measuring social networks of young adults with autism
While social isolation is a core challenge associated with autism, researchers from Drexel University's A.J.

Study suggests optimal social networks of no more than 150 people
New rules of engagement on the battlefield will require a deep understanding of networks and how they operate according to new Army research.

Social networks can support academic success
Social networks have been found to influence academic performance: students tend to perform better with high-performers among their friends, as some people are capable of inspiring others to try harder, according to Sofia Dokuka, Dilara Valeyeva and Maria Yudkevich of the HSE University.

Brain builds and uses maps of social networks, physical space, in the same way
Even in these social-distanced days, we keep in our heads a map of our relationships with other people: family, friends, coworkers and how they relate to each other.

Twitter fight: Birds use social networks to pick opponents wisely
In a new article published in the journal Current Opinion in Psychology, UC biologist Elizabeth Hobson says animals such as monk parakeets seem to understand where they fit in a dominance hierarchy and pick their fights accordingly.

Study questions benefits of social networks to disaster response
Faced with a common peril, people delay making decisions that might save lives, fail to alert each other to danger and spread misinformation.

'McDonaldization' based analysis of Russian social networks
The author describes his concept this way: 'the principles of the fast-food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of recent'.

Hunter-gatherers facilitated a cultural revolution through small social networks
Hunter-gatherer ancestors, from around 300,000 years ago, facilitated a cultural revolution by developing ideas in small social networks, and regularly drawing on knowledge from neighbouring camps, suggests a new study by UCL and University of Zurich.

Read More: Social Networks News and Social Networks Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.