J Epidemiol Community Health 56:647-652 doi:10.1136/jech.56.9.647
  • Glossary

A glossary for health inequalities

  1. I Kawachi,
  2. S V Subramanian,
  3. N Almeida-Filho
  1. Center for Society and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor I Kawachi, Department of Health and Social Behavior, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston MA 02115, USA;


    In this glossary, the authors address eight key questions pertinent to health inequalities: (1) What is the distinction between health inequality and health inequity?; (2) Should we assess health inequalities themselves, or social group inequalities in health?; (3) Do health inequalities mainly reflect the effects of poverty, or are they generated by the socioeconomic gradient?; (4) Are health inequalities mediated by material deprivation or by psychosocial mechanisms?; (5) Is there an effect of relative income on health, separate from the effects of absolute income?; (6) Do health inequalities between places simply reflect health inequalities between social groups or, more significantly, do they suggest a contextual effect of place?; (7) What is the contribution of the lifecourse to health inequalities?; (8) What kinds of inequality should we study?


    • Funding: Dr Almeida-Filho is supported in part by a Pan-American Health Organization/Harvard Center for Society and Health Fellowship on Health Inequalities.

    • Conflicts of interest: none.

    Relevant Article