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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?

  • health inequality

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  • 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.

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