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Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research

Why are social inequalities in health stronger in some countries than in others?

1 December 2015

Speaker: Dr Tim Huijts, Lecturer in Global Public Health, Queen Mary University of London

Although social inequalities in health exist in all societies worldwide, the degree of these inequalities varies spatially, and notable differences exist across countries. This implies that social inequalities in health are not inevitable, and that there is potential to considerably reduce health inequalities. Moreover, these differences are often contrary to expectations: for example, the Scandinavian welfare states do not always have the smallest health inequalities.

In this seminar, I presented data on social inequalities in health in Europe from the new ESS module on social determinants of health. Additionally, I reviewed research that has tested why social inequalities in health vary cross-nationally, using recent examples from my own work. Finally, I discussed main gaps in this line of research. I argued that comparative research on health inequalities would benefit from stronger links to social theory, and discussed the contribution of the new NORFACE-funded HiNews project in making these links.