Poverty and health inequality

Authored by: Mel Bartley

Routledge International Handbook of Poverty

Print publication date:  October  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9780367178666
eBook ISBN: 9780429058103
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780429058103-28

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Abstract

Health inequality refers to the universal finding of public health research that most major diseases and life expectancy are related to social position. “Social position” is an umbrella term that covers occupational social class, prestige, income and wealth. Individuals and groups with more favourable occupational conditions, higher prestige, income and wealth tend to live longer healthier lives than others. Poverty is thus only one of several explanations for health inequality. Other prominent theories include the ideas that bad health may itself cause poverty, that social disadvantages of other kinds are associated with both poverty and illness-producing stress. This chapter examines the evidence for all of these different explanations for the link between poverty and poor health.

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