Cities have always been the center of economic development, expansion and technological progress and cultural activities in all their expressions. Large cities present difficulties in terms of overcrowding, environmental pollution, insecurity, and a long list.
This list includes urban problems typical of those spaces, along with the overpricing of homes, due to low supply and high demand.
Nevertheless, a curious experience the inhabitants of Glasgow are living, the largest city in Scotland, the third in the United Kingdom, and the one that is listed as one of the top 20 economies in Europe.
Since the early 90’s, Glasgow ranks among the sickest cities in the UK, since the public health problems that it faces place it as the city with the lower life expectancy in all of Western Europe.
Conditioning factors associated with the Glasgow effect
Currently, the Glaswegians, as those born in Glasgow are known, suffer the well-known Glasgow effect, which encompasses a series of conditions that make this city a true case study.
Mainly, from the sociological and psychological point of view, the Glasgow effect is used to mention the problems that the city presents, such as a high incidence of suicides, especially of people between 15 and 45 years of age.
The health problems suffered by the population is also another factor that affects life expectancy. According to the World Health Organization, Glasgow is an example of health inequities.
According to WHO data, a child in the private area of Calton, a district of Glasgow, had an average life expectancy of 54 years, while a child from Lenzie, located 12 kilometers from East Dunbartonshire, could live to be 82 years .
The people of Glasgow are unhealthy, according to comparative studies conducted across various Scottish towns, which determine other factors such as premature deaths and high suicide rates.
If it is a sick city to determine the Glasgow effect, it would be worth mentioning what are the main scourges that affect the population.
The Glasgow effect is reflected in the number of deaths from cirrhosis of the liver, drug abuse, lung cancer, as well as high suicide and homicide rates:
- According to various studies, this city in Scotland was the first and still retains the seat, in the heroin use, a drug that affects the central nervous system, mental functions, heart function, and respiratory system.
- Likewise, alcohol consumption plays an important role in terms of the risk of diseases, so part of the Glasgow effect is due to the amount of drink consumed per person, per day, and the high degrees of alcohol in the drinks that are ingested .
- Another factor that determines the Glasgow effect is diet, because in that city, only one in five inhabitants consumes the amount of vegetables and fruits recommended by government entities. In fact, until recently, most Glasgow’s favorite snack was a breaded and deep-fried candy and chocolate bar.
The drama of living from the past
When Margaret Thatcher came to power as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Glasgow had a thriving economy based on heavy industry, with the presence of factories and workshops. However, over time, these companies they stopped being prosperous, so they left the city to settle in other areas where the cheapest labor was guaranteed.
This situation produced high unemployment rates
that left a good number of heads of families without the possibility of being employed again, which deteriorated the self-esteem and morale of the inhabitants.
Definitely, it was the start of a vicious cycle in which the morale affected by the lack of employment induced the consumption of drugs and alcohol, which in turn brought violence, affectation of the family and, consequently, the appearance of the referred diseases.
This vicious circle has prevailed between generations, which has left young people without a life goal, emotionally disarmed, submerged in the stress that leads to the consumption of alcohol and drugs.
And as it happens in all societies, the most vulnerable sectors are those with the least economic power, and it is in these social layers where the highest number of premature deaths occur and short life expectancy.
Scientific studies as part of the solution
Despite all this situation, and the conviction that the health problems that produce the Glasgow effect have their origin in poverty, in the nutritional imbalance and in the consumption of drugs and alcohol, there are root causes that must be discovered, identified and treated with the scientific rigor it deserves.
On the other hand, comparatively, the health surveys applied in England and Scotland on the consumption of alcohol and cigarettes show that in Glasgow “They don’t drink excessively or smoke more than those in Liverpool or Manchester.”
But drug abuse, specifically heroin, as well as crimes with knife and suicides are exponentially more frequent in Glasgow.
Hence the questions Why? And what prevails in the inhabitants of Glasgow that awakens this behavior?
There are theories that attribute the Glasgow effect to the climate, since cold winters, lack of sun, and consequently of vitamin D could be associated with these behaviors.
On the other hand, there is a palpable reality: Glasgow is a poorer city than the records show; while others credit the Glaswegians with their excessive alienation.
Those who have the design of public policies in their hands face a dilemma with the Glasgow effect, since to tackle the problem they must know the origin and propose solutions that include from children to adults, through young people.
For now, regulations are strict regarding the unhealthy selection of Glaswegians, which has positioned the country as a pioneer in complying with public health standards.
Glasgow was the first city in Britain to ban smoking in public spaces, and is moving towards the goal of setting a unit price for alcohol.