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Child health in Iceland before and after the economic collapse in 2008
  1. Geir Gunnlaugsson
  1. Correspondence to Dr Geir Gunnlaugsson, Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, School of Social Sciences, University of Iceland, IS-101 Reykjavik, Iceland, Iceland; geirgunnlaugsson{at}


After rapid economic growth, more than 90% of the Icelandic banking system collapsed within 2 weeks in October 2008. A severe economic crisis of historic proportion ensued from which Iceland is still recovering. To protect those most vulnerable, governmental response included policy measures aimed to address the needs of children, families, the elderly, those on social benefits and the unemployed. By the maintenance of free universal healthcare for pregnant women and children, child health has been preserved. Six years later, there is little notable impact of the crisis on key child health indicators. Yet, the proportion of children born small-for-gestational age increased from 2.0% to 3.4%. One important pillar for the outcome is the good coverage and easy access to universal healthcare, educational and social services with highly qualified professionals. Iceland has shown that, by protecting the most vulnerable and maintaining universal access to healthcare, children's health and well-being can be maintained during an economic crisis.

  • Public Health
  • Delivery of Health Care; Integrated
  • Health Policy
  • Economic Recession
  • Child Welfare

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