FSD3464 Health and Political Engagement 2016

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  • Mattila, Mikko (University of Helsinki. Faculty of Social Sciences)
  • Lahtinen, Hannu (University of Helsinki. Faculty of Social Sciences)
  • Rapeli, Lauri (Åbo Akademi University)
  • Sund, Reijo (University of Helsinki. Faculty of Social Sciences)
  • Wass, Hanna (University of Helsinki. Faculty of Social Sciences)


health, health services, health status, political attitudes, political awareness, political participation, politics, trust, voting, well-being (health)

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The study charted health and its effect on political engagement among the Finnish population. Main themes in the study were voting behaviour in 2015 parliamentary elections, political participation, health status, political trust and views on health services. The study received funding from the Academy of Finland.

The respondents were first asked how interested they were in politics, whether they had voted in the previous parliamentary elections and for which party, and whether they thought voting was a civic duty. Political participation was surveyed with questions about different forms of participation engaged in, such as contacting a politician, participating in an association or organisation, boycotting, and expressing views on social media.

Health status was charted by asking the respondents how they perceived their health, whether they had a long-term health problem that hampered their daily activities, how long they had suffered from the health problem, whether it had affected their civic engagement and whether they had been discriminated against because of the problem. Further questions about health status surveyed the ability to care for oneself, pain and symptoms, anxiety and depression, long-term health issue of a loved one, height and weight, and illnesses diagnosed by a doctor in the previous 12 months (e.g. high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, depression, asthma).

Political attitudes were charted with questions about how complicated the respondents regarded politics, how much say they thought they had in decision-making, their satisfaction with how democracy worked in Finland, and trust in political actors (e.g. the Parliament, political parties, the Government, public servants). Trust in other people was also charted as well as knowledge about political issues and self-placement on the left-right scale.

Opinions on health services were surveyed by asking the respondents, for instance, about the quality of Finnish health services, whether wealthy people should pay more for their health services, whether public health services should be improved even if it meant raising taxes, and whether fees should be increased for treating diseases associated with certain habits and lifestyle choices (smoking, overuse of alcohol, lack of exercise).

Background variables included the respondent's year of birth, gender, mother tongue, education and occupation as well as the length of potential unemployment, the size of the household and its monthly gross income.

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