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Persistence of social and health problems in the welfare state: A Danish Cohort experience from 1948 to 1979

By Tavs Folmer Andersen


A cohort of 1112 pre-school children who lived in Copenhagen around 1950 was reidentified three decades later. A historical body of information regarding living conditions during childhood was supplemented with information from public registries concerning adult life experiences of the very same individuals. Childhood conditions were analysed in relation to later occurences of hospitalization, delinquency and unemployment in adult life. A group of individuals whose childhoods were characterized by unfavourable conditions in the slum clearance sections of Copenhagen in the fifties later experienced a substantial accumulation of health and social problems in adult life. The housing conditions during childhood turned out to be a powerful predictor of later occurences of somatic as well as psychiatric hospitalization, and furthermore of conviction for criminal offences. The fundamental importance of living conditions for the development of social and health problems permeates the population experience of the highly developed Danish welfare state, in full agreement with its basic properties as a class society.

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