From evidence based bioethics to evidence based social policies

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In this issue, Norwegian authors demonstrate that causes of early expulsion out the workforce are rooted in childhood. They reconstruct individual biographies in administrative databases linked by an unique national identification number, looking forward 15 years in early adulthood and looking back 20 years till birth with close to negligible loss to follow up. Evidence based bioethics suggest that it is better to live in a country that allows reconstructing biographies in administrative databases then in countries that forbid access by restrictive legislation based on privacy considerations. The benefits of gained knowledge from existing and accessible information are tangible, particularly for the weak and the poor, while the harms of theoretical privacy invasion have not yet materialised. The study shows once again that disadvantage runs in families. Low parental education, parental disability and unstable marital unions predict early disability pensions and premature expulsion out gainful employment. The effect of low parental education is mediated by low education of the index person. However, in a feast of descriptive studies of socio-economic causes of ill health we still face a famine of evaluative intervention studies. An evidence based social policy should be based on effective interventions that are able to break the vicious circles of disability handed down from generation to generation.

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