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Inequalities in HealthConcepts, Measures, and Ethics$
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Nir Eyal, Samia A. Hurst, Ole F. Norheim, and Dan Wikler

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199931392

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199931392.001.0001

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Health Inequality, Health Inequity, and Health Spending

Health Inequality, Health Inequity, and Health Spending

(p.27) 2 Health Inequality, Health Inequity, and Health Spending
Inequalities in Health

Anthony B. Atkinson

Oxford University Press

Health inequalities are at the forefront of public debate in many countries, including the United States and the European Union. Governments have in recent years set in place programmes to tackle health inequalities. However, the current economic and fiscal crisis is threatening progressive health policies. The aim of this paper is to show how a deeper understanding of the issues of measuring inequality helps us develop policy responses. The paper starts from the parallel with the measurement of income inequality, but argues that the dimension of health needs different treatment. In the same way, we should not treat health and income symmetrically in indicators, such as the Human Development Index, that seek to combine income and health in a single performance measure. The paper then examines the inter-relation between income and health: the issue of health “inequity”. The nature of the health gradient however needs to be carefully established, since different forms have different implications for policy. It goes on to widen the scope of the discussion to consider the role of health-related social transfers and the distribution of the benefits from public health programmes. The final part addresses issues raised for health policy by the economic crisis.

Keywords:   health inequalities, health inequity, measures of income inequality, gini, inequality in age at death, distribution of health, public health programmes

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