Socioeconomic and environmental covariates of premature mortality in Ontario
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This paper contributes to debates on the broad determinants of health and on the policy shift from curative to preventive and protective interventions. It addresses empirically the relative importance of influences on health with a multiple regression analysis of ecologic data from the 49 counties of Ontario. One model achieved high predictive power (that is, Adj R2 > 75%, p < 0.0001). Educational levels were a strong predictor of population health, showing a consistent inverse relationship with premature mortality ratios for both sexes and it was the strongest predictor for females. A low income variable supplied the strongest prediction for male mortality. This variable displayed a positive association with male mortality. Municipal expenditures on environmental protection exerted a negative effect on male mortality. These findings raise questions about the current directions of health policy in Ontario where the provincial government has reduced funding to social and environmental programs, while promising to maintain health care funding.
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