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Population ageing: a global health crisis?
Population ageing: a global health crisis?

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6 Population ageing and global forces

It is impossible to talk about population ageing and global health without considering global forces.

While global health is concerned with all influences on health regardless of level of operation (for example, individual lifestyles, local environments, national economies), it is particularly interested in global influences. Globalisation is one of the most significant global influences. Through the process of globalisation we are increasingly living in an interconnected and interdependent world (Brown et al., 2006), and this is shaping daily life and consequently influencing our health. It is therefore time to look more closely at globalisation and health. Activity 5 will introduce you to what globalisation is and the types of changes that define it.

Activity 5 Our globalised world

Timing: Allow about 1 hour 45 minutes

Part A

Read Reading 1: Globalisation: what is it and how does it affect health? [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] (Lee, 2004).

If you have access to a printer, print off the Reading and, as you read, underline or highlight any concepts you do not understand or have not come across before. Using your chosen internet search engine, explore what these concepts might mean in the context of the article. You might want to write these ideas down as comments along the side or at the bottom of the article.


Some parts of the reading are quite complex, but reading in depth and exploring further any concepts that you are unsure about will help you to understand the arguments and complete the next activities. You may have picked out the following concepts:

  • Market liberalism and inequities are the belief in free and open markets, which means that governments are discouraged from interfering with the prices of goods and services, and determining supply and demand (for example, through policies such as price fixing, regulations on trading and taxes). Market liberalisation is connected to globalisation, as promoting free markets in turn promotes international trade in goods and services. This, however, can result in inequities, or unfairness, in economic outcomes. For example, without regulations some countries will be at an advantage and others at a disadvantage in terms of whether their industries are able to compete internationally, or even domestically, where goods come in from other countries.
  • Foreign direct investment (FDI) is the flow of investment from one country to another. This might include, for example, a company setting up a related company overseas, or buying shares in an overseas company, or the combining of one company with another company overseas. Examples of FDI could include a large car company with production plants in different countries, a successful fast-food company opening new chains in different countries, a US company buying majority shares in an Indian company, or where two companies from different countries start a joint venture, such as mining. Foreign direct investment is linked to globalisation as it builds connections around the world.

Part B

In the reading, Lee (2004) sees that globalisation is best defined by three types of changes. Identify and briefly describe these below.

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The three types of changes are:

  • Spatial changes: globalisation has caused physical space to contract or disappear altogether as, due to advancements in technology (such as in transport and communication), the flow of people, information, money and goods across countries is increasing. The breaking down of physical boundaries between countries reflects the fact that action in one country can impact other parts of the world; for example, carbon dioxide emissions produced by developed countries results in climate change that causes extreme weather on the other side of the world.
  • Temporal changes: in addition to our experience of space, how we experience time is changing. Technology (for example, phones and aeroplanes) can connect people or take them from one place to another faster than before. On the other hand, life has slowed down in some respects – for example, access to the internet means we can become overloaded with information, which we then spend more time accessing and processing.
  • Cognitive changes: globalisation changes how we see ourselves and other countries. For example, the mass media and communication technology, or increased travel to other parts of the world, brings us knowledge of other countries, and along with it the sharing of ideas and values.