Health in the Age of Austerity: Greece and Ireland

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
JWS - Room J7 (J361) (University of Glasgow)
Susan Giaimo , Marquette University
The economic crisis that began in 2008 strained welfare states in Europe, especially in countries accepted EU/IMF bailouts to avert bankruptcy.  While studies measure the economic effects of austerity, most of them ignore the effects of such policies on the health of populations.  This paper addresses that gap by comparing austerity’s effects on health, both directly in terms of the effects of unemployment and poverty on health, and indirectly in terms of how austerity bailouts have constrained health policy responses to the economic crisis. 

The EU/IMF bailout required Greek governments to slash health care spending and to introduce structural reforms to improve efficiency of the health care system.  Rising joblessness and poverty have taken their toll on the health of the population, while austerity budgets have made it more difficult to meet the health needs of such vulnerable groups.  Ireland’s improving economic indicators suggest greater success in meeting austerity, but its health care system has not fared as well.  Deep spending cuts to the health budget has strained the health system to meet the health needs of the most vulnerable groups.  Austerity budgets also derailed the government’s ambitious plans for structural reforms to rectify longstanding inequities.

By looking at both the direct and indirect effects of austerity on health, my paper will deepen our understanding of the eurozone austerity regime’s effects on solidarity and equity, and its long-term viability.  I use documentary evidence to compare both countries’ national policies and that of EU/IMF actors.

  • Giaimo CES paper 7-10-17.pdf (361.1 kB)