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A Commitment to Welfare: the impact of Richard Titmuss on health and social policy

Having joined the LSE in 1950, Richard Titmuss, almost single-handedly, created the academic field of social administration (what we would now call social policy) in Britain. He wrote extensively on health, inequalities and other welfare issues, which have again come to the fore in the COVID-19 pandemic. What can we learn from Richard Titmuss as we look forward to the post-COVID world? 


Professor Sir Julian le Grand (Chair)
Jon Ashworth MP
Professor Kevin Fenton
Professor Lucinda Platt
Professor John Stewart

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Philipp HesselUsamaBilal


Dr Philipp Hessel, Associate Professor, Alberto Lleras Camargo School of Government, University of the Andes

Dr Usama BilalAssistant Professor in the Urban Health Collaborative and the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Drexel's Dornsife School of Public Health

The SALURBAL project: life expectancy and mortality profiles in 363 cities of Latin America

The usual conceptualization of the “urban advantage” in health ignores the possibility of heterogeneities in health outcomes across cities. Using a harmonized data set from the SALURBAL project, we described variability and predictors of life expectancy and proportionate mortality across 363 cities of 9 Latin American countries. Life expectancy differed substantially across cities within the same country. Causes of death also varied across cities with some causes of death (unintentional and violent injuries deaths) showing large variation within countries, whereas other causes of death (communicable, maternal, neonatal and nutritional (CMNN), cancer, and cardiovascular disease and other non-communicable diseases (CVD/NCDs)) varied substantially between countries. In multivariable mixed models, higher levels of education, water access, and sanitation, and less overcrowding, were associated with longer life expectancy, a relatively lower proportion of CMNN and higher proportion of cancer and CVD/NCDs deaths. These results highlight heterogeneities in life expectancy and causes of death  across cities of the region, and suggest factors amenable to urban policies that could improve urban health.

Click here for more information on SALURBAL.

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COVID-19 & Global Gender Strategy: If not now, when?

While there have been significant advances in gender equality in the past 30 years, the Covid-19 threatens to undo this good work. Studies show more men are dying of COVID-19 but the negative secondary social and economic effects as a result of the pandemic will negatively affect more women. School closures, lockdowns and reduced access to healthcare are just some of the ways the pandemic is already exaggerating existing gender disparities. This event brings together global experts on gender issues to discuss the urgent need to support women. How can women’s vulnerability be considered in pandemic preparedness and response? And what is the role of the policymaker in reestablishing the path to a more equal society for men and women?


Dr Clare Wenham (Chair)
Nazneen Damji
Dr Roopa Dhatt
Professor Sarah Hawkes
Megan O'Donnell

Registration link coming soon.





Dr Sumit Mazumdar, Research Fellow (Global Health), Centre for Health Economics, University of York

Private means for public ends? Insights and considerations from healthcare market behaviour and responses in India during the COVID-19 pandemic

With a highly-privatised market for health care services, and chronically-low levels of public investments in health among countries of similar economic levels, the recent experience of the health system’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in India presents a unique case of how the private and the public sector have realigned relative roles in providing emergency services and meeting the demand for medical care.

In the days ahead, the health system is likely to be confronted further with several challenges following risks of economic slowdown, unemployment and increasing poverty. Immediate questions also involve managing patient loads in overstretched health facilities while keeping contagion risks at the minimum and enforcing social distancing and other norms and implementing major public health programmes, many of which have bene significantly affected due to the pandemic.

Discussing these recent experiences in the backdrop of the key structural features of the contemporary health system and the politics surrounding health policy-making in India, the seminar argues the need for a better realignment of public and private roles in the Indian health sector with a more assertive role of the public sector in the market for health care. Some considerations for an adaptive and responsive health sector reform strategy for India is outlined.

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Dr Luke Allen, Research Associate at Green Templeton College, University of Oxford / WHO Consultant, HQ Integrated Health Services team and WHO European Office for Non-Communicable Diseases

Death by chocolate: the political economy of global tobacco, alcohol, and junk food consumption

Over the past century, globalization and evolutionary biology have done a number on us. Growing wages, improved living conditions and increasingly ubiquitous creature comforts have all-but banished the scourges of starvation, death in childhood, and infectious diseases. However obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, COPD and dementia have risen to take their place – driven by the spread of new commercial vectors of disease: tobacco, alcohol, and junk food.

This interactive seminar will guide you through the past 200,000 years of human development, challenge your assumptions about poverty and healthy choices, and explore which countries are doing the best job of combatting unhealthy industries. Dr Allen will draw on his extensive work on non-communicable diseases and the commercial determinants of health, as well as his experience advising governments and working at WHO in this interactive online seminar. There will be space to discuss the myriad questions that this topic brings up – especially around ideology, democracy, freedom to make bad choices, and the role of government in protecting health.

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Dr Anna Nicinska, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw

Soviet communism and health: the role of education

Later-life health is shaped by relevant factors that occurred over a life course, and their impact varies depending on individual education. We aim to examine how the events experienced in the past affected health of older adults living in post-communist countries, with particular focus on the role of the exposure to communist education. Although the health-education gradient has been examined for Western countries extensively, our understanding of the relationship between education and health in previously communist political-economic regimes remains limited.

Social institutions concerned with health care and behavioral risks varied substantially between communist and non-communist countries. Specifically, Soviet education system with particular attention paid to physical education, differed significantly from education system in Western countries. In addition, the transition from communism to free market regime brought institutional and economic shocks. These differences might have long-lasting effects especially if associated with the exposures during periods of life characterized by particular vulnerability.

We apply a difference-in-differences approach to SHARE and GGS data to find positive effects of education on later-life health. Interestingly, the effects of communist education are more pronounced than the education effects in Western European countries as well as in the post-communist countries after the regime transformation.

This work is supported by the Bekker programme of the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange and by the Polish National Science Center.

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Dr Judith Vall, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Universitat de Barcelona & Researcher

Living at the peak: health and public finance during the COVID-19 pandemic

This paper provides novel evidence for the determinants of preferences for public health and the willingness to pay for health services using a survey experiment implemented during the third week of the lock-down in Spain. At the time of our experiment the confirmed COVID-19 cases reached the 100k mark in Spain and 1 million worldwide. We collect information on several health outcomes, which we are able to benchmark with results from previous surveys.

Results show a substantial deterioration of mental health, which is more pronounced in groups of the population with less stable income sources. Furthermore, we implement two information treatments about the fatality rate across age groups and the incidence rate across regions. We ask participants about their preferred budget allocation, which we can again benchmark against the enacted budget and previous surveys. Results suggest that preferences for health care expenditures have almost doubled.

Furthermore, we ask respondents about their willingness to pay for one out of three randomly assigned health care improvements. Contributions for more ICU beds are significantly higher compered to medical treatments and a vaccine.

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Recent events



Meeting of the European Health Policy Group on COVID-19: impacts on health and health care systems in Europe

The European Health Policy Group (EHPG) is a multidisciplinary network that aims to stimulate international collaboration and learning through comparative analysis of changes to health care systems in Europe. The group meets twice a year to discuss research papers.

View all conference presentations and slides here.




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