Social Welfare and Public Health: Analysing Quasi-natural Experiments from the 2007 Recession

Principal Investigator: David Stuckler


This Wellcome Trust New Investigator Award in Medical Humanities is led by Dr David Stuckler. The project uses natural experiments to understand how social protection programmes can help protect people during hard times.

Does investing in social protection improve public health? It is well-known that health is powerfully affected by factors outside the healthcare systems. But which social protection programmes, if any, have a significant effect? At a time of fiscal retrenchment in Europe, it is particularly important to learn how social protections programmes can help protect people during hard times. Thus, our project seeks to understand: how do social protection programmes affect public health? Which specific investments are the most effective and how do they work?

To shed light on these questions, we will take advantage of what are commonly referred to as 'natural experiments'. These experiments arise from policy variations that occur across geographic space, over time, or based on differing eligibility. Recently, these experiments include austerity and stimulus packages in Europe. Our analysis will help to understand the full human costs of economic policies, as well as whether and how social protection can play a role in averting harm.

Funding Provider

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Wellcome Trust

Research Associate

Research Centre

  • Institute for Social Protection