Deindustrialising economies, plant closures and affected communities: Identifying potential pathways to health inequities

Kathryn Browne–Yung, Anna Ziersch, Sharon Friel, Toby Freeman, Fran Baum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Issue addressed: Deindustrialisation and transitions from traditional manufacturing to new technologies and service industries in many high-income countries including Australia has resulted in rising employment insecurity, unemployment and increased income and health inequities. In this paper, we explore potential impacts of an automotive plant closure on health in a disadvantaged area of South Australia. Our aim was to examine how prevailing factors affecting social and health inequity might be further affected following the plant closure and to identify levers for potential policy responses. Methods: In workshop discussions with 28 policy and 14 community stakeholders through an iterative process participants discussed how existing factors contributing to community social and health inequity might be worsened (or remediated) by the looming economic shock from the plant closure. Results: We identified eight key themes highlighted in the workshops. In particular local economic investment, availability of job opportunities, and appropriate training were identified as key factors influencing individual financial security, which was in turn linked to social and health impacts. Conclusions: The pathways mapped between the plant closure and social and health equity impacts highlighted differential potential impacts on individuals and the community, and identified policy levers to reduce adverse health outcomes resulting from economic shocks such as the closure of a major employer. So what?: The study highlighted a broad range of intersecting factors affecting the health of the local community that policy responses to the plant closure needed to address to promote health and health equity. This included novel factors identified by community members, reinforcing the importance of including community perspectives when constructing policy responses.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
JournalHealth Promotion Journal of Australia
Early online date8 Dec 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Dec 2021

Keywords

  • economic factors
  • employment
  • health equity
  • social determinants of health

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