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trackback: health and inequality

In my never-ending effors to use movabletype’s trackback feature to its absolutely maximum, I’m pleased to trackback a recent entry by Kieran Healy. Kieran commented on the relationships between inequality and health, noting the lack of intelligent discussion in the news about this topic and linking to some important evidence on the relationships between work and ill health in the British civil service field.

As I’ve noted once in a while, I have a more-than-passing interest in medical sociology, and as such I have an interesting read to add to Kieran’s post. Catherine Ross and Chloe Bird wrote an excellent paper titled Sex Stratification and Health Lifestyle: Consequences for Men’s and Women’s Perceived Health, in which they discuss how fundamental social causes of disease persist even when intervening mechanisms change. The result? In addition to work (in the particular case Kieran mentions), numerous social conditions (including some related to sex, in Ross and Bird’s paper), are significant and important factors influencing our health, in ways that function largely beyond our control. What does this mean? Inequality changes how healthy we are, and those of us who are “less equal” than others suffer particularly difficult health outcomes of these differences.