Differences in health between socia-economic groups are a major public health problem. In all European countries for which data are available and for some considerable time now, rates of mortality and morbidity have been found to be higher among groups with a lower income, a lower educational level or a lower occupational classl. Mortality and morbidity rates have been found to be one and a half to four times higher among the most disadvantaged, depending on the population studied and the exact methods used. Moreover, for some countries there is evidence that these differences have increased during the last decades. Studying the causes of these health differences is highly valuable for understanding disease etiology. It may help to identify risk factors for diseases which will not easily be detected in other ways. Moreover, it is essential for designing strategies to reduce socioeconomic differences in health. The latter is not only desirable from the point of view that these differences may, at least pmily, be seen as unfair but also because reducing socio-economic differences in health offers a good opportunity to improve overall health of societies at large.

health indicators, public health, socio-economic indicators
J.P. Mackenbach (Johan)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Netherlands Heart Foundation
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Cavelaars, A.E.J.M. (1998, September 30). Cross-national comparisons of socioeconomic differences in health indicators. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/17010