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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2018

Long term unemployment, income, poverty, and social public expenditure, and their relationship with self-perceived health in Spain (2007–2011)

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2018
M. Puerto López del Amo González, Vivian Benítez, José J. Martín-Martín



There is scant research that simultaneously analyzes the joint effects of long-term unemployment, poverty and public expenditure policies on poorer self-perceived health during the financial crisis. The aim of the study is to analyze the joint relationship between long-term unemployment, social deprivation, and regional social public expenditure on one side, and self-perceived health in Spain (2007–2011) on the other.


Longitudinal data were extracted from the Survey on Living Conditions, 2007–2010 and 2008–2011 (9105 individuals and 36,420 observations), which were then used to estimate several random group effects in the constant multilevel logistic longitudinal models (level 1: year; level 2: individual; level 3: region). The dependent variable was self-perceived health. Individual independent interest variables were long and very long term unemployment, available income, severe material deprivation and regional variables were per capita expenditure on essential public services and per capita health care expenditure.


All of the estimated models show a robust association between bad perceived health and the variables of interest. When compared to employed individuals, long term unemployment increases the odds of reporting bad health by 22% to 67%; very long-term unemployment (24 to 48 months) increases the odds by 54% to 132%. Family income reduces the odds of reporting bad health by 16% to 28% for each additional percentage point in income. Being a member of a household with severe material deprivation increases the odds of perceiving one’s health as bad by between 70% and 140%. Regionally, per capita expenditure on essential public services increases the odds of reporting good health, although the effect of this association was limited.


Long and very long term unemployment, available income and poverty were associated to self-perceived bad health in Spain during the financial crisis. Regional expenditure on fundamental public services is also associated to poor self-perceived health, although in a more limited fashion. Results suggest the positive role in health of active employment and redistributing income policies.
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