J Epidemiol Community Health 59:542-545 doi:10.1136/jech.2004.021147
  • Continuing professional education

Wealth and health: the need for more strategic public health research

  1. Fran Baum
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor F Baum
 Department of Public Health, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, Australia;
  • Received 29 August 2004
  • Accepted 13 December 2004


This article argues that public health researchers have often ignored the analysis of wealth in the quest to understand the social determinants of health. Wealth concentration and the inequities in wealth between and within countries are increasing. Despite this scare accurate data are available to assist the analysis of the health impact of this trend. Improved data collection on wealth distribution should be encouraged. Epidemiologists and political economy of health researchers should pay more attention to understanding the dynamics of wealth and its consequences for population health. Policy research to underpin policies designed to reduce inequities in wealth distribution should be intensified.


  • * Inequality is concerned with difference so that equality is about sameness. Inequity is concerned with fairness and ethical considerations stemming from inequalities. The terms are often used interchangeably in the literature on disparities in health status.

  • Funding: none.

  • Conflicts of interest: none declared.