Household Wellbeing and Health in Two Types of Welfare Regimes: A Comparison of (Lower-) Middle Income Households Chile and Costa Rica

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 9:50 AM
Room: Booth 53
Oral Presentation
Monica BUDOWSKI , Social Sciences, University of Fribourg, 1700 Fribourg, Switzerland
Daniel VERA , Dept. of Social Sciences: Div. Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, University of Fribourg, 1700 Fribourg, Switzerland
The aim of this paper is to elaborate to what extent the logics of the opportunities as shaped by welfare regimes (the interplay of markets, the state, communities and households) play out for wellbeing. Health is crucial for wellbeing. Different welfare regimes provide different opportunities to deal with health issues. Chile and Costa Rica’s organization of health care reflects the logics of their welfare regimes: liberal and social-democratic. We look at how households deal with health issues and what repercussions this has on their other life domains and wellbeing. We focus on households belonging to (lower) middle-income households. These are heterogeneous, as they belong to those having been heaved out of poverty over the past decades due to economic growth or to formerly middle-income households having experienced an increase in insecurity and downward mobility due to the changes in the model of Social Security linked to the change in economic model (abolishment of the Import Substitution Industrialization model). Such households struggle to maintain or improve their level of wellbeing and to avoid slipping downwards into even more precarious positions; they do not have sufficient financial means to cushion unforeseen events and are generally not target of social policies. Recent research has highlighted the socio-economic volatility of these households, yet little is known what this means for their wellbeing. Our research looks into the everyday life of (lower) middle-income households by means of qualitative interviews with the same households in 2008/09 and 2013 in Temuco and San Josť. Results suggest that the households in Chile were constantly preoccupied with how to deal with health issues and the consequences. This furthered anxieties and worries in other life domains. In Costa Rica, the basic security provided by the national heath system of sufficient quality limited the spillover of worries into other life domains.