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The UK is one of many world states that suffer from serious health inequalities, which are commonly defined as 'systematic differences in health status between different socio-economic groups' (Dahlgren, & Whitehead, 2007, p.14). Within countries the inequalities can be seen throughout the whole social spectrum, suggesting "there is not simply a threshold of absolute deprivation below which people are sicker, but a linear relationship between socio-economic circumstances and health even among the betteroff" (Macintyre 1994, p.54)…
Thus, life expectancy at birth in wealthier Japan is more than 80 years while in incomparably poorer Sierra Leone it is only 34 years - a difference which is shocking to say the least (Marmot 2005).
However, growing inequalities in health in the UK and other developed and developing countries, coupled with the increasing disparities in wealth and income, have forced many researchers to rethink the traditional narrow approach to exploring the contributors to such situation. Social and economic circumstances have been associated though not as heavily as these days, with health inequalities for many decades. Socio-economic status strongly influences people's physical and mental health, their use of health care, and mortality rates. Many recently published works on socio-economic determinants of health inequalities clearly demonstrate that these exist in the UK and elsewhere in the world, even in the richest societies (Krieger et al. 1997).
However, none of the existing definitions or even groups of definitions comprehensively reflects the essence of the highly complex and multilateral concept which i ...
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