The gendered effects of foreign investment and prolonged state ownership on mortality in Hungary: an indirect demographic, retrospective cohort study.
BACKGROUND: Research on the health outcomes of globalisation and economic transition has yielded conflicting results, partly due to methodological and data limitations. Specifically, the outcomes of changes in foreign investment and state ownership need to be examined using multilevel data, linking macro-effects and micro-effects. We exploited the natural experiment offered by the Hungarian economic transition by means of a multilevel study designed to address these gaps in the scientific literature. METHODS: For this indirect demographic, retrospective cohort study, we collected multilevel data related to Hungary between 1995 and 2004 from the PrivMort database and other sources at the town, company, and individual level to assess the relation between the dominant company ownership of a town and mortality. We grouped towns into three ownership categories: dominant state, domestic private, and foreign ownership. We did population surveys in these towns to collect data on vital status and other characteristics of survey respondents' relatives. We assessed the relation between dominant ownership and mortality at the individual level. We used discrete-time survival modelling, adjusting for town-level and individual-level confounders, with clustered SEs. FINDINGS: Of 83 eligible towns identified, we randomly selected 52 for inclusion in the analysis and analysed ownership data from 262 companies within these towns. Additionally, between June 16, 2014, and Dec 22, 2014, we collected data on 78 622 individuals from the 52 towns, of whom 27 694 were considered eligible. After multivariable adjustment, we found that women living in towns with prolonged state ownership had significantly lower odds of dying than women living in towns dominated by domestic private ownership (odds ratio [OR] 0·74, 95% CI 0·61-0·90) or by foreign investment (OR 0·80, 0·69-0·92). INTERPRETATION: Prolonged state ownership was associated with protection of life chances during the post-socialist transformation for women. The indirect economic benefits of foreign investment do not translate automatically into better health without appropriate industrial and social policies. FUNDING: The European Research Council.