LONDON, Dec 16, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A Spanish study in this week's Christmas issue of the BMJ says people living in democracies enjoy better health than those under repressive regimes.
Using published freedom ratings, the researchers explored the effect of democracy on life expectancy and mother and infant deaths in 170 countries, representing 98 percent of the world's population.
Overall, 45 percent of the countries were free, 32 percent partially free, and 24 percent not free.
The highest levels of health were found in free countries, followed by the partially free countries, and the worst levels of health were in countries that were not free.
The authors say democracies allow for more space for social networks and pressure groups, opportunities for empowerment, better access to information, and better recognition by government of people's needs.
If this relation is confirmed, the extent of freedom of a country could provide a new approach to decreasing national mortality, they say.
Copyright 2004 by United Press International.