Longer Life Is Born of Social Justice as Well as Health; Professor Gareth Williams of the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University Makes the Case That Social Justice Is Good for Our Health the Thursday Essay

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), September 11, 2008 | Go to article overview

Longer Life Is Born of Social Justice as Well as Health; Professor Gareth Williams of the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University Makes the Case That Social Justice Is Good for Our Health the Thursday Essay


Byline: Professor Gareth Williams

With all the talk of credit crunch, boom and bust, home repossessions and rising fuel costs, a report published at the end of August which tells us at least as much about the state of our economy and society may have passed almost unnoticed.

The UN report, produced by a World Health Organisation commission, shows in stark terms the inequalities in health and life expectancy found across the world, and within different countries.

Closing the Gap in a Generation, by the intimidating entitled Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, chaired by a British professor, Sir Michael Marmot, has a global reach - but it is also uncomfortably close to home. In as much as health inequalities are avoidable, the report argues, the conclusion is unavoidable: "Social injustice is killing people on a grand scale."

The report has taken evidence from a wide range of sources. We all know that children have dramatically different life chances and life expectancy depending on where they are born. A girl born in Japan or Sweden can expect to live to more than 80 years, and remain in reasonably good health for most of her life. At the other extreme, in several African counbuild tries a girl born to day can expect to live less than 45 years, with many of these years being lived in chronic ill-health. And on this scale the UK comes out not too badly, with a life expectancy of 77 years for men and 81 years for women, and a National Health Service, free at the point of use, to look after us when things fall apart.

So, what has this got to do with us? Well, the stark reality is that in the UK, as elsewhere, things fall apart sooner for some people than for others. In all countries, wealthy or poor, there is a "health gap" between those who are better off and those who are worse off. In the UK the health gap is very wide, and getting wider, even after 11 years of Labour Government in Westminster.

To take the most dramatic example, in Scotland, a boy born in the suburb of Calton, east of Glasgow city centre, can expect to live 28 years less than one born in Lenzie a few miles away in East Dunbartonshire - less, too, than boys born in parts of India.

While this precipitous comparison has dominated the media reports, there are significant inequalities elsewhere, including Wales: life expectancy of 72 years in Bute town and Tredegar, for example, compared to 82 in Cyn

Cyncoed and 83 in Usk. For men, whose life expectancy is lower than that of women, there are a number of localities in both the north-east and South Wales (Shotton and Twyn Carno, for example) where life expectancy shamefully falls below 70 years.

While health inequality is not just a problem of poor countries, neither is it simply a problem for poor people in rich countries.

Health and illness follow a "social gradient": health gets progressively worse at each step down the social ladder. In other words, health inequalities tell us something about the whole of our society, not just those at the bottom of the heap.

This is important, because there is a tendency to respond to the bad news in a report such as this by blaming the victims portrayed in the news - those people living in "the Calton" or "the Gurnos" or, indeed, any other housing estate which can be safely defined by all sober and hard-working people as "somewhere else". …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Longer Life Is Born of Social Justice as Well as Health; Professor Gareth Williams of the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University Makes the Case That Social Justice Is Good for Our Health the Thursday Essay
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.