Does political ideology impact health?
Does politics have an impact on health? This is the question formulated by Roman Pabayo, a social epidemiologist from the University of Reno, Nevada. The answer to whether political ideology or affiliation intervene in the health of the followers of a political current or supporters of a political party has been provided in the form of a study carried out during Pabayo’s stay at Harvard University and which results have been published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health and picked up by the Los Angeles Times.
For such purpose, Roman Pabayo and his team –made up of members of the Harvard School of Public Health and Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health—have analyzed the data of 32,830 persons who participated in the General Social Survey Death Index between 1976 and 2008, attending to two variables: their political affiliation (Democrat, Independent or Republican) and their ideology (liberal, moderate or conservative). Researchers verified the number of constituents that had died prior to December 31, 2008, also taking into account criteria such as age, gender, ethnicity, income and the place and region of residency.
The results obtained from this study (performed on a basis of 28.2 percent of those analyzed, given that they were the ones who had died during this period) reveal that while no significant difference exists in terms of political affiliation between the two rival parties –through a greater number of deceased were registered among Independents than among Democrats--; political ideology does seem to be more related to health. Pabayo and his team have observed that both conservatives and moderates registered a mortality rate that is 6 percent higher than that of liberals during the period that was analyzed.
Though Pabayo’s study is not the first to try to relate mortality or health with political ideology –there have been studies in recent years covering from who is healthier to who is the happiest—this one stands out from the rest because it is the first time that both criterion –affiliation to a political party and political ideology—have been considered.