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Structural energy poverty vulnerability and excess winter mortality in the European Union: Exploring the association between structural determinants and health

Description

Energy poverty (EP) is a growing problem in the European Union (EU) that affects the population's health. EP is
structurally determined by broader political and socio-economic conditions. Our aims were to analyze the
configuration of these determinants in each EU-27 country through the creation of a structural energy poverty
vulnerability (SEPV) index, to group countries according to their SEPV index scores, and to explore the association
between SEPV and EP prevalence, and also with excess winter mortality (EWM). We created a SEPV
index through seriated principal component analyses and then validated the index. We performed a hierarchical
cluster analysis (HCA) to group countries according to their SEPV. A Poisson regression model was fitted to
analyze the association between SEPV and EWM. The final index comprised 13 indicators and showed an unequal
distribution of SEPV across the EU. The HCA identified countries with high structural vulnerability
(southeastern Europe) and countries with low structural vulnerability (northwestern Europe). The most vulnerable
countries showed a statistically significant higher EP prevalence and risk of EWM. The SEPV index
summarizes the structural determinants of EP across the EU, allows to identify geographical patterns and to
study how the structural determinants of EP affect health.