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Lookup NU author(s): Professor Clare Bambra
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).
There are significant inequalities in health by socio-economic status, race/ethnicity, gender, neighbourhood deprivation and other axes of social inequality. Reducing these health inequalities and improving health equity is arguably the ‘holy grail’ of public health. This article engages with this quest by presenting and analysing historical examples of when sizeable population-level reductions in health inequalities have been achieved. Five global examples are presented ranging from the 1950s to the 2000s: the Nordic Social Democratic welfare states from the 1950s to 1970s; the Civil Rights Acts and War on Poverty in the 1960s USA; democratisation in Brazil in the 1980s; German reunification in the 1990s; and the English Health Inequalities Strategy in the 2000’s. Welfare state expansion, improved healthcare access, and enhanced political incorporation are identified as three commonly held ‘levellers’ whereby health inequalities can be reduced – at scale. The article concludes by arguing that ‘levelling-up’ population health through reducing health inequalities requires the long-term enactment of macro-level policies that aggressively target the social determinants of health.
Author(s): Bambra C
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: Scandinavian Journal of Public Health
Pages: epub ahead of print
Online publication date: 19/06/2021
Acceptance date: 11/05/2021
Date deposited: 11/05/2021
ISSN (print): 1403-4948
ISSN (electronic): 1651-1905
Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd
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