Understanding Health Inequalities

Understanding Health Inequalities

Understanding Health Inequalities

Understanding Health Inequalities

Synopsis

Understanding Health Inequalities turns the spotlight on a question at the heart of health and welfare policy. Why is there a social class gradient in health? How do socio-economic inequalities in life chances and living conditions take their toll on health? The book tackles the questions of why and how by drawing on UK research funded under the ESRC's Health Variations Programme. The authors - at the forefront of research in their field - focus on issues which hold the key to explaining and reducing health inequalities. Separate sections of the book focus on:
• ethnicity, gender and socio-economic status
• how health is shaped by experiences and exposures over the lifecourse
• how our home and neighbourhood may have an additional influence on our health. A fourth theme - that of policy development and policy impact - runs through these sections and is explicitly addressed in the concluding chapter. Written with the student and practitioner in mind, Understanding Health Inequalities is designed to make cutting-edge research on health inequalities accessible to both the academic and policy communities.

Excerpt

This book turns the spotlight on the link between social inequality and individual health. It does so by focusing on socio-economic inequality: on the fact that how well and how long one lives is powerfully shaped by one’s place in the hierarchies built around occupation, education and income.

The chapters draw on new research from the UK which sheds light on the mechanisms which link socio-economic status (SES) to health. Some of the chapters are concerned with lifecourse pathways: with how exposure to disadvantage takes its toll on health through childhood and across adult life. Others explore whether and how our place of residence – our home and neighbourhood, local area and wider region – influences our chances of leading a long and healthy life. Framing the chapters is a concern with how SES connects with other axes of inequality, like ethnicity and gender, in making a difference to health.

These themes are explored through analyses of existing surveys and through new empirical studies. The chapters draw both on quantitative data, using established measures of SES and health, and on qualitative data, where people talk in their own terms about the influence of biography and place on their lives. The research forms part of the Health Variations Programme, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The programme was set up in 1996 to shed light on the causes of health inequalities in the UK.

The UK provides an illuminating case study. On the one hand, it exhibits trends evident in other older industrial societies, where greater prosperity and better health for the population as a whole has not brought about a . . .

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