This essay argues that work, and the socioeconomic class polarities it creates, plays a fundamental role in determining inequalities in the distribution of morbidity and mortality. This is by means of uneven exposure to physical hazards and psychosocial risks in the workplace, as well as by inequalities in exclusion from the labour market and the absence of paid work. Furthermore, this essay shows that the relationships between work, worklessness and health inequalities are influenced by the broader political and economic context in the form of welfare state regimes. This leads to the development of a model of the political economy of health inequalities, and how different types of public policy interventions can mitigate these relationships. This model is then applied to the case of work and worklessness. The essay concludes by arguing that politics matters in the aetiology of health inequalities.
- Political issues
- public health policy
- social epidemiology
- social inequalities
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Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.