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Does Economic Equity Promote Both Health And Learning Among  Young People?
Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Disciplinary Research.
2011 (English)Conference paper, (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

8. Research on Health Education                                                                            Format of Presentation: Paper                                                                               Alternative EERA Network: 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education                   

Does Economic Equity Promote Both Health And Learning Among Young People?

Jörgen Svedbom

Jönköping University, Sweden

Presenting Author: Svedbom, Jörgen

 

This paper describes a project for statistical analysis of factors influencing young peoples´ learning and health.

During  the latest years many  societies have expressed concern about their pupil´s bad results in international  knowledge tests such as TIMMS and PISA as well as the worse mental health, reported in studies like HBESC and UNICEF report card 7.

Among pedagogues and health workers is an ongoing debate about  what comes first; if effective learning leads to good mental health (Grosin,2004) or if  it is the other way around (Ogden, 2006). This paper argues that there is a third factor involved that affects both health and learning among young people. This factor is socioeconomic equity.

Wilkenson and Pickett(2009) has shown that equity is a strong health-promoting factor and  they also argues that equal societies produce better school results, fewer dropouts from school and weaker impact of the parents educational level on the pupils´ results.     

Wilkenson´s studies have been criticized for being “snapshots” of a situation and not take into account  differences in culture, values, policies etc. in the different countries.

To take such factors into consideration,  this project is designed as a longitudinal, retrospective analysis of  the changes in  national ranking in Science and Mathematics in TIMMS and PISA studies as well as the changes in economic equity, as described by the Gini index

When changes in TIMMS-ranking for Mathematics and Science  during the latest decade are related to the changes in Gini index, a considerable co-variation is observed. Countries where the economic equity has increased,  reflected by a decreasing Gini index, have climbed upwards in the TIMMS ranking scale!

The results are the same for Mental health and equity. Mental health among  young people is better in more equal countries.

This paper argues that the observed co-variation is a reflection of a real connection between economic equity  and young peoples´ learning and health and that the causality goes from economic eguity to pupils´ learning and health. The hypothesis is that economic stress is the mediating factor (Hagqvist, 1998).

Economic stress affects the human neuro-hormonal system in the same way as other kinds of stress which results in decreasing learning ability and increasing  tendency to develop illness (Währborg, 2009)

The studies now will continue with a broadened and deepened statistical analysis of the most recent data from TIMMS and PISA studies and from changes in Gini-index.

An analysis of the afflictions of inequality on young peoples´ learning and health must be considered highly relevant in the light of the present  reconstruction of European economy  which regularly leads to increasing  economic differences and inequality in the European societies. Another question that finally will be considered in this analysis is if, and how, the concept of economic equity/inequity could be an issue to handle in school. (BruunJensen and Lund, 2007)

Methodology, Methods, Research Instruments or Sources Used

The methodology is a retrospective statistical analysis of the results different countries have reached in the international TIMMS and Pisa studies during the period1990 - 2009. These results are statistically related to changing levels of economic equity in the same countries, using the Gini-index as a measure for economic equity.The statistical relation between the Gini index and the development of young peoples health, as measured by UNICEF report card 7, is also analyzed.                                                                                                             Conclusions, Expected Outcomes or Findings

The findings so far is that there is a considerable co-variation between changes in a country´s position in the TIMMS ranking scale and the changes in Gini-index for the same country. Also pupils mental well-being in a specific country shows a co-variation with the Gini-index.The hypothesis in this analysis is that increasing inequity in a society, that is dominated by a discourse of equity and of all peoples´ same value, results in economic stress among its inhabitants. This kind of stress have the same  negative consequences for learning possibilities and health as other kinds of stress.  

References

BruunJensen & Lund (2007): Den ulige sundhed – en oppgave for skolen? Köpenhamn. Danmarks Pedagogiske Universitet

Granlund M. et al(2010): School, learning and mental health – a systematic review. Stockholm. Royal Academy of Sience

Grosin. L(2004): Skolklimat, prestation och anpassning i 21mellan- och högstadieskolor. Stockholm. Univ. Ped. Inst.

Hagquist C(1998) Economic stress and perceived health among adolecents in Sweden. Published in: Journal of Adolecent Health, 1998;22:250-257

Ogden, T(2006): Skolans mål och möjligheter. www.FHI.se

Wilkinson & Pickett(2009: The Spirit Level - why equal societies almost always do better. London. Penguin Books

Währborg P.(2009): Stress och den nya ohälsan. Stockholm. N&K

Intent of PublicationThe intention is to present this analysis in a book that the SHE-network (SHE = Schools for Health in Europe) plans to publish during year 2012.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011.
Keyword [en]
Economic equity, Health, Learning, Economic stress, Gini-index
Keyword [sv]
Ekonomisk jämlikhet, Hälsa, Lärande, Ekonomisk stress, Gini-koefficient
National Category
Learning
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-20235OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-20235DiVA: diva2:588934
Conference
The European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), Berlin 12 - 16 September, 2011. Urban education
Available from: 2013-01-16 Created: 2013-01-16 Last updated: 2015-09-07Bibliographically approved

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