Assessing health outcomes in the aftermath of the great recession: a comparison of Spain and the Netherlands

Kristina Thompson, Annemarie Wagemakers*, Johan Van Ophem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background - Across time and space, financial security has been shown to impact health outcomes, with the acute loss of financial security being particularly detrimental. We compare financial security’s association with health in Spain and the Netherlands. These countries respectively exemplify low and high levels of financial security, general trends that have been exacerbated by the Great Recession of the 2010s. Methods - We exploit the Spanish (n = 1001) and Dutch (n = 1010) editions of the European Social Survey 7, conducted in 2014, and condense relevant financial security- and health-related survey questions into latent variables using factor analyses. Using the component loadings as quasi-weightings, we generate one financial security variable and three health variables (mental, physical and social). Then, we run ordinary least squares regressions interacting financial security and nationality, for each of the three health outcomes. Results - In unadjusted models, we find that financial security (p < 0.01) is positively associated with the three health outcomes, while being Spanish relative to being Dutch (p < 0.01) is associated with worse health outcomes. However, the results of the interaction term show that being Spanish relative to being Dutch weakens the relationship between physical health and social health, although not mental health. Conclusions - We find evidence that financial security’s influence on health outcomes may vary in different contexts. This may be an important aspect of determining the Great Recession’s influence on health outcomes. Our study is a first step in understanding how the relationships between financial security and health may differ in countries with different experiences of the Great Recession
Original languageEnglish
Article number84
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal for Equity in Health
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2020


  • Europe
  • Financial crisis
  • Financial security
  • Great Recession
  • Health
  • Netherlands
  • Spain
  • Wealth


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