Low-income countries can also improve public health

In India and China, a small ecological burden per capita is combined with positive developments in public health, which makes them different from other OECD and BRICS countries.

According to a recent study by researchers at the Faculty of Social Sciences of Tampere University, the examples of India and China show that a good level of public health can be maintained, and health can be promoted even under conditions of lower consumption. This challenges the assumption that promoting public health would require continued consumption-led economic growth.

According to the estimates of the authors of the study Jutta Pulkki, Mikko Perkiö and Lauri Kokkinen, welfare states and low-income countries have the potential to become so-called environmental states that take care of both the environment and public health.

Countries with low ecological burden improved public health the most

The study assessed the development of public health and ecological burden in 33 OECD and BRICS counties for 55 years from 1960 to 2015.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is a forum of nations established by countries in Europe and North America. BRICS is an acronym that refers to the five major emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Together, OECD and BRICS account for 60 percent of the world population and, measured by economic indicators, are the most prosperous and rapidly developing countries in the world.

The purpose of the study was to find if there are countries where life expectancy has increased, or infant mortality declined, while the per capita ecological footprint has stayed at a moderate level or decreased simultaneously.

The results show that the differences between the smallest and largest national ecological footprints were more than tenfold during the investigated period.

The relative increase in life expectancy and decrease in infant mortality have been the highest in countries with lower than average ecological burdens per capita.

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