Monday, August 17, 2015

Toward making sense of the structural constraints of health & illness in the neoliberal variation of advanced (or late-) capitalist society … (2)

We have known for over 150 years than an individual’s chances of life and death are patterned according to social class: the more affluent and better educated people are, the longer and healthier their lives. These patterns persist even when there is universal access to health care—a finding quite surprising to those who think financial access to medical services is the primary determinant of health status. In fact, recent cross-national evidence suggests that the greater the degree of socio-economic inequality that exists within a society, the steeper the gradient of health inequality. As a result, middle-income groups in a more unequal society will have worse health than comparable or even poorer groups in a society with greater equality. Of course, we cannot infer causation from correlation, but there are plausible hypotheses about pathways which link social inequalities to health, and, even if more work remains to be done to clarify the exact mechanisms, it is not unreasonable to talk here [after Michael Marmot] about the social ‘determinants’ of health.—Norman Daniels, Bruce Kennedy, and Ichiro Kawachi in their book, Is Inequality Bad for Our Health (Beacon Press, 2000)

Further Reading: Sreenivasan, Gopal. Justice, Inequality, and Health, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 

My bibliography for Health: Law, Ethics, & Social Justice 


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