Health Inequality and Societal Institutions.
Social Theory and Health
© 2003 Palgrave Macmillan Ltd All rights reserved.Critical realists and 'neo-materialists' in social medicine have for some time been calling for more attention to the societal institutions, and their historical development, that may underlie different degrees of economic inequality and health inequality. This paper uses some ideas from the critics to address the variable and inconsistent answers we get to the question of whether the degree of income inequality in modern industrial nations is related to the degree of inequality between socio-economic groups within those nations. The paper examines evidence that certain features of state provision, and differences in family forms and function, may also contribute to the explanation of health inequality. There is some indication that forms of state provision are related to the degree of health inequality. However, certain types of family organisation appear to be least as strong an influence. In countries where a higher proportion of the elderly live with their families, and where women carry out more hours of unpaid labour, health inequality tends to be lower in both men and women. The impact of social as well as economic relations on health need to be considered, and the political implications of this may in some cases be rather complex.
Archive Staff Only