Politics, electoral systems and inclusive decision-making: Do political institutions affect health?

person dropping paper on box 1550337

Funded by: Wellcome Trust

End date: August 2022

Project outline

Do political institutions influence the health of populations?

Democratic institutions are facing new pressures and this project seeks to uncover whether changing these political institutions could affect health. Political institutions are the rules that govern who participates and how they participate in decision-making processes within societies.

For example, political institutions dictate who gets to vote and how votes are counted. Political institutions potentially affect health because they make governments more or less responsive to the preferences of their citizens. However, this straightforward view of how political institutions affect health may not be entirely correct. This is because some voices matter more than others (e.g., corporations also influence policy) and so universal suffrage may not necessarily deliver better health.

This project will shed light on these questions through a series of empirical case studies. For example, I will examine whether including previously excluded groups into decision-making processes improves the health of those formerly excluded groups, or whether their influence on policy decisions is weaker in majoritarian political systems than proportional representation systems because votes are counted differently.

This project speaks to the sustainable development agenda by illuminating whether political institutions may accelerate or inhibit progress toward ensuring health lives for all.