Scottish Longitudinal Study
Development & Support Unit

Completed Projects

Project Title:

From industries to services: Occupational mobility and health in Scotland, England and Wales

Project Number:



Eleni Kampanellou (University of St Andrews)
Christopher Dibben (University of St Andrews)
Frank Popham (MRC SPHSU, Glasgow)

Start Date:

Approved on 11-05-2012


The study aims to assess the positive and negative impact of occupational change associated with deindustrialization on health and mortality in Scotland, England and Wales. In particular the project focuses on the population employed in the industrial sector and their transition to other sectors of the economy or unemployment. It is expected that health variations and mortality patterns exist among those employed in the industrial sector compare to those in the services sector through the route of occupational change, unemployment and re-employment. There are four main objectives for the project. First is to examine the change in occupation and economic activity (employment/unemployment) of the working age population in Scotland, England and Wales by comparing males and females absorbed in different industries and services. Secondly to identify to what extent former industrial employees manage to be reabsorbed in other sectors of the economy and whether this varies by age and gender. Third to assess the morbidity (cancer registrations, limiting illness) and mortality patterns of former industrial workers and services employees who became redundant compare to similar men and women still working in similar industries and services and those reabsorbed in other sectors of the economy. Finally to examine whether former industrialized areas have an independent effect on the formation of health differentials and mortality patterns.

The transition from an industry based to a service based economy, perceived commonly as deindustrialization, constitutes an ongoing historical socio-economic transformation across countries and regions. Although there is an extensive literature on the economic implications of deindustrialization, research on the health impact of this event is still scarce.

Current research examining the relationship between industrial decline, health and mortality patterns has revealed mainly negative health implications due to this process. Comparative research examining the trends of deindustrialization and mortality (Walsh, Taulbut, & Hanlon, 2010) showed that Scotland has demonstrated high mortality among young working age males and middle age females, whereas poor health in Scotland improves at a slower pace compared to the other post-industrialized regions in the UK and Europe. Similarly (Danson, 2005) old industrial regions are more likely to demonstrate high levels of inactivity and hidden unemployment, whereas individuals in these regions are more likely to report ill health (Mitchell et al., 2000).

However several studies have found positive health effects due to the reduction of employment in industries. A study on industrial employees in the province of British Columbia showed that employees who left the industry reported better health and working conditions compare to the workers who stayed in the industry (Ostry et al., 2002). Similarly, Loomis et al. (2004) examined the effect of deindustrialization on long term trend of occupational risk in the United States. By focusing on unintentional occupational injuries they suggested that deindustrialization contributed to a certain extent to the decline of fatal occupational injury rates.

Although the connection between industrial employment and health has been explored from certain perspectives, however, very few studies have used individual level longitudinal data for the analysis, especially in the UK. Longitudinal studies like the Scottish longitudinal Study (SLS) and ONS Longitudinal Study (LS) are based on census data and have the advantage that they link individuals with vital events enhanced by health information such as cancer registrations (LS and SLS) and hospital admissions (SLS). Therefore by the inclusion of the SLS and the LS the current project will offer further insights of the possible positive and negative effects of deindustrialization on different working-age population groups in Scotland, England and Wales by investigating the health and mortality patterns among those affected most by this event.


Danson 2004. Old Industrial Regions and Employability. Urban Studies, 42(2), pp.285-300

Loomis, D. et al., 2004. Deindustrialisation and the long term decline in fatal occupational injuries. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 61(7), pp.616-621

Mitchell, R. et al., 2000. Do attitude and area influence health? A multilevel approach to health inequalities. Health & Place, 6, pp.67-79

Ostry, A.S. et al., 2002. Effect of De-Industrialisation on Working Conditions and Self Reported Health in a Sample of Manufacturing Workers. Epidemiology and Community Health, 56, pp.506-509

Walsh, D., Taulbut, M. & Hanlon, P., 2010. The aftershock of deindustrialization--trends in mortality in Scotland and other parts of post-industrial Europe. European Journal of public health, 20(1), pp.58-64

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