Grad student’s research on Danish health profile published in prestigious journal

Research by York University graduate student May Bakah was recently published in the Scandanavian Journal of Public Health. She identifies new key issues on the Danish health system in her study “New hypotheses regarding the Danish health puzzle.”

Bakah, who is currently doing her master’s in health policy and equity, investigated reasons why Denmark’s health profile lags well behind other Nordic and developed nations for her major research project.

Despite being noted as one of the most equalitarian nations in the world, Denmark’s health profile has been very poor since the 1970s. Despite decades of research, the causes of this have remained hidden.

Bakah scoured public policy and political economy literature published over the past 30 years to identify what may be behind these findings. Through her inquiry, she came up with numerous hypotheses that included neo-liberal restructuring of the economy and its institutions, the institution of insecure employment in Denmark’s labour market, and the influence of Denmark’s tobacco and alcohol industries.

She also found that Denmark has not treated non-Western immigrants well and until recently, Denmark did not systematically address the issue of health inequalities.

Publication of this work in the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health should promote debate among the Danish public policy and public health community, said York University Professor Dennis Raphael.

“This paper reinforces the important role that social sciences can play in seeking a deeper understanding of phenomena, by reflecting on how social circumstances and political climate may influence living conditions for different groups of people,” he said.

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