Philipp Hessel

Philipp Hessel
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute | Swiss TPH · Department of Epidemiology and Public Health

PhD
I am a demographer and quantitative social scientist working on the social determinants of population health & equity.

About

61
Publications
5,222
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588
Citations
Introduction
I am a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Swiss Tropical & Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) and the University of Basel. Previously I was Associate Professor and Director of the undergraduate program at the University of the Andes (School of Government) in Bogotá, Colombia. A demographer and sociologist by training, I use quantitative methods to study how life-course exposures affect health and cognitive functioning at later-life.
Additional affiliations
October 2021 - present
University of Basel
Position
  • Fellow
Description
  • As Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow I lead a project on the effects of women's political representation on child development in LMIC's.
January 2017 - September 2021
Los Andes University (Colombia)
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
August 2014 - September 2016
Harvard University
Position
  • David E. Bell Fellow
Education
October 2010 - October 2014
September 2009 - August 2010
The London School of Economics and Political Science
Field of study
  • Social Science Research Methods (Population)
September 2006 - June 2009
Freie Universität Berlin
Field of study
  • Sociology

Publications

Publications (61)
Preprint
Full-text available
Background Interventions that combine cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with unconditional cash transfers (UCT) reduce the risk of antisocial behavior (ASB), but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. In this paper, we test the role of psychological and cognitive mechanisms in explaining this effect. We assessed the mediating role of executive fun...
Article
Extensive research suggests that poverty is associated with adolescent mental health problems. However, studies typically focus on monetary poverty and have not examined how other dimensions of poverty relate to adolescent mental health. This study examines the association between multidimensional poverty and mental health among adolescents using a...
Article
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Socioeconomic inequalities in the detection and treatment of non-communicable diseases represent a challenge for healthcare systems in middle-income countries (MICs) in the context of population ageing. This challenge is particularly pressing regarding hypertension due to its increasing prevalence among older individuals in MICs, especially among t...
Article
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To increase public transport use, especially for individuals with lower incomes, many cities worldwide have introduced subsidies for public transport systems. However, quantitative evidence of their effects on actual ridership remains scarce, especially in Global South countries. Using a quasi-experimental regression discontinuity design (RDD) in c...
Preprint
Full-text available
Conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs have been shown to improve human capital and mental health in the short-run. However, it remains unclear whether those effects are long-lasting. Using data from Mexico, we test whether school-age exposure to the Progresa CCT program affects adult mental health. We exploit variation in the timing of the intro...
Article
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Background Road-traffic injuries are a key cause of death and disability in low-income and middle-income countries, but the effect of city characteristics on road-traffic mortality is unknown in these countries. The aim of this study was to determine associations between city-level built environment factors and road-traffic mortality in large Latin...
Article
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Whereas monetary poverty is associated with increased risk of depressive symptoms in young people, poverty is increasingly understood as a multidimensional problem. However, it is yet to be understood how the associations between different dimensions of poverty and youth mental health differ across countries. We examine the relationship between mul...
Article
Abstract Background: In the past few years, Brazil has implemented some of the world`s largest Conditional Cash Transfers(Bolsa Familia Program -BFP), Social Pensions(Benefício de Prestação Continuada -BPC), and Primary Health Care(Family Health Strategy –FHS). We evaluated their comprehensive impact on morbidity and mortality indicators over the l...
Article
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Background: Young people living in poverty are at higher risk of mental disorders, but whether interventions aimed to reduce poverty have lasting effects on mental health has not been well established. We examined whether exposure to Brazil's conditional cash transfers programme (CCT), Bolsa Família (BFP), during childhood reduces the risk of ment...
Article
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This study contributes to the debate on whether income inequality is harmful for health by addressing several analytical weaknesses of previous studies. Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics in combination with tract-level measures of income inequality in the United States, we estimate the effects of differential exposure to income inequality du...
Article
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Purpose Poverty and poor mental health are closely related and may need to be addressed together to improve the life chances of young people. There is currently little evidence about the impact of poverty-reduction interventions, such as cash transfer programmes, on improved youth mental health and life chances. The aim of the study (CHANCES-6) is...
Article
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Objective Using newly harmonised individual-level data on health and socio-economic environments in Latin American cities (from the Salud Urbana en América Latina (SALURBAL) study), we assessed the association between obesity and education levels and explored potential effect modification of this association by city-level socio-economic development...
Article
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Levels of women's empowerment (WE) can contribute to differences in infant mortality rates (IMRs) across cities. We used a cross-sectional multilevel study to examine associations of WE with IMRs across 286 cities in seven Latin American countries. We estimated IMRs for 2014-2016 period and combined city socioeconomic indicators into factors reflec...
Article
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Introduction Although cash transfer programmes are not explicitly designed to improve mental health, by reducing poverty and improving the life chances of children and young people, they may also improve their mental health. This systematic review and meta-analysis assessed the evidence on the effectiveness of cash transfers to improve the mental h...
Article
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The concept of a so-called urban advantage in health ignores the possibility of heterogeneity in health outcomes across cities. Using a harmonized dataset from the SALURBAL project, we describe variability and predictors of life expectancy and proportionate mortality in 363 cities across nine Latin American countries. Life expectancy differed subst...
Article
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Background Diabetes prevalence continues to increase in urban areas of low-income and middle-income countries (LMIC). Evidence from high-income countries suggests an inverse association between educational attainment and diabetes, but research in LMIC is limited. We investigated educational differences in diabetes prevalence across 232 Latin Americ...
Article
Social protection measures can play an important part in securing livelihoods and in mitigating short-term and long-term economic, social, and mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, cash transfer programmes are currently being adapted or expanded in various low-income and middle-income countries to support individuals and fa...
Article
Social protection measures can play an important part in securing livelihoods and in mitigating short-term and long-term economic, social, and mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, cash transfer programmes are currently being adapted or expanded in various low-income and middle-income countries to support individuals and fa...
Article
Full-text available
The possible impact of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems on land values remains the source of an interesting debate. Using a matching method known as Coarsened Exact Matching (CEM) in combination with detailed cross-sectional cadastral data, this study assesses the effects of Bogotá’s BRT infrastructure on residential land value, as well as effect he...
Article
Background Many low- and middle-income countries have introduced social pensions to alleviate extreme poverty and improve the well-being of older individuals. However, evidence remains inconclusive about the potential effects of such programs on mental health, social and health behaviors. Method Data for individuals ≥60 years came from the nationa...
Article
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We assessed the relation between social pension benefits and health among poor older individuals in Colombia based on a qualitative case study (N = 51) using in-depth semi-structured interviews. Participants were beneficiaries of the Colombia Mayor social pension programme, recruited through snowball sampling in one rural and one urban area. Partic...
Article
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The objective of this study was to investigate associations between education in early life and cognitive impairment in later life in Colombia. Participants were community-dwelling adults aged 60 years or older from the National Study of Health, Wellbeing and Ageing. Trained interviewers administered a shorter version of the mini-mental state exami...
Article
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We assessed the effects of female political representation on mortality among children younger than age five in Brazil and the extent to which this effect operates through coverage with conditional cash transfers and primary care services. We combined data on under-five mortality rates with data on women elected as mayors or representatives in stat...
Article
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Background Studies in high-income countries have documented a consistent gradient between socio-economic status (SES) and high blood pressure (HBP), a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, evidence from Latin American countries (LA) remains comparatively scarce and inconclusive. Data Data for 3,984 individuals came from a nati...
Article
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Background: Cable cars provide urban mobility benefits for vulnerable populations. However, no evaluation has assessed cable cars' impact from a health perspective. TransMiCable in Bogotá, Colombia, provides a unique opportunity to (1) assess the effects of its implementation on the environmental and social determinants of health (microenvironment...
Chapter
This chapter addresses the needs for preventive measures to improve the unfair—and avoidable—living and working conditions that produce increased rates of mental disorders among poor workers, women, immigrants, and racial and ethnic minorities. It also addressees treatment to narrow persistent mental health disparities by providing high-quality men...
Article
To assess the association between acute exposure to neighborhood violent crimes and depression we combined representative, individual-level and geo-coded data for individuals aged 60 years and above living in four major cities in Colombia from the 2010 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) with objective information on the timing and location of viol...
Article
Although Latin American populations are ageing rapidly, many countries have important shortcomings in terms of access to social security coverage. Despite significant improvements regarding access to healthcare, the coverage gap in terms of pensions represents a major challenge for public health and equity in the region. The principal aim of this s...
Article
Objectives We analyzed the relation between exposure to the armed conflict and violence with mental health disorders in Colombia and assessed the extent and determinants of socioeconomic inequalities in mental health related to differential exposure to the conflict and violence. Methods Regression and decomposition analyses were used in combinatio...
Article
Although levels of violence have declined, exposure to conflict, unfortunately, remains a common feature of many people’s lives. While “demography is not destiny,” demographic factors have been widely discussed as potential causes for conflict. This essay discusses the implications of two demographic megatrends – population growth and aging – on th...
Article
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The peace accord between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian Government has been widely lauded by the international community, and rightly so. Yet, formidable challenges remain to its implementation. One substantial challenge is the high percentage of former guerillas as well as victims of the conflict in need of men...
Article
The countries of Latin American are aging rapidly. Because most countries in the region lack adequate social protection systems, many Latin American governments have introduced noncontributory pension programs to reduce poverty and food shortages. This study assessed the effects of a large national noncontributory pension program on the health and...
Article
Background Although cognitive performance levels in old age have increased in most countries, recent evidence documents a slowing down or even decline in cohort gains in highly developed countries. The aim of this study was to assess trends and determinants in secular cohort gains in cognitive functioning among older individuals and whether cohort...
Article
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Background Per capita allocation of overall development assistance has been shown to be biased towards countries with lower population size, meaning funders tend to provide proportionally less development assistance to countries with large populations. Individuals that happen to be part of large populations therefore tend to receive less assistance...
Article
Objective This study aimed to quantify the extent to which health characteristics of workers are related to the potential risk of experiencing job displacement due to automation. Methods Linking the 2015 Norwegian Statistics on Income and Living Conditions survey (n=6393) with predicted probabilities of automation by occupation, we used Kruskal-Wa...
Article
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Objective: Workers approaching retirement may be particularly vulnerable to economic downturns. This study assesses whether exposure to economic downturns around retirement age leads to poorer cognitive function in later life. Method: Longitudinal data for 13,577 individuals in the Health and Retirement Study were linked to unemployment rates in st...
Article
Objectives To examine the association between informal work and subjective well-being in Colombia. Methods Repeated cross-sectional study based on data from three nationally representative surveys of 1997, 2005 and 2011 (n = 4485). Life satisfaction was measured with a Likert scale ranging from 1 to 10 points. Informal work was defined as paid work...
Article
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Background: Research has shown that individual socio-economic circumstances throughout life affect health in older ages. However, little attention has been paid to the broad economic context affecting individual's life-chances. This paper examines whether economic downturns experienced during young and mid-adulthood have long-run effects on physic...
Article
Objectives: Whereas the view that retirement would have negative effects on health is widespread, many existing studies may be biased because they do not sufficiently take into account the issue of reverse causation. Using a large longitudinal dataset for twelve Western European countries, this study uses an instrumental variables approach to asse...
Article
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Publishers know academic books are not expected to sell much at all. Last year, however, Thomas Piketty's “Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century” [1] became the exception: by May 2014, this dense 700-page book arguing that inequality is not an accident but a structural feature of capitalism, was number one in the New York Times Bestsellers non-fic...
Article
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Studies in high-income countries suggest that mortality is related to economic cycles, but few studies have examined how fluctuations in the economy influence mortality in low- and middle-income countries. We exploit regional variations in gross domestic product per capita (GDPpc) over the period 1980-2010 in Colombia to examine how changes in econ...
Article
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Increasing social participation among older individuals to increase health and wellbeing has become a distinct policy goal of many national governments and the European Commission. However, to date the evidence on how social participation affects health, both subjective and objective, remains limited, especially since most studies do not account fo...
Thesis
Several studies suggest that population health improves during recessions and deteriorates during economic expansions. However, the majority of these studies only focus on the short-term or contemporaneous effects of economic fluctuations on health. As a result, very little evidence exists on potential long-term health effects of exposure to booms...
Article
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Objectives: Greece and Ireland suffered an economic recession of similar magnitude, but whether their health has deteriorated as a result has not yet been well established. Study design: Based on five waves (2006-2010) of the European Union Statistics of Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) survey we implemented a difference-in-differences (DID)...
Article
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Fluctuations in the national economy shape labour market opportunities and outcomes, which in turn may influence the accumulation of cognitive reserve. This study examines whether economic recessions experienced in early and mid-adulthood are associated with later-life cognitive function. Data came from 12 020 respondents in 11 countries participat...
Article
To examine whether economic conditions at the time of leaving school or college are associated with physical functioning in later life among cohorts in 11 European countries. Data came from 10,338 participants in the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) aged 50-74 who left school or college between 1956 and 1986. Data on functi...
Article
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Background: Health in Greece deteriorated after the recent financial crisis, but whether this decline was caused by the recent financial crisis has not been established. This article uses a quasi-experimental approach to examine the impact of the recent financial crisis on health in Greece. Methods: Data came from the European Union Statistics o...
Article
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On the basis of an interpretation of official documents and public statements the article reconstructs the European Union's script of a globalised economy. In analogy to the creation of the common market the EU's economic ideas rest on the belief that market opening and competition have a positive impact on economic growth and welfare. Whether this...

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Projects (3)
Project
This projects seeks to systematically study the effects of various social protection programs on health and mortality in Latin America.