Inequalities in Health and Care

What are inequalities in health and use of care?

Inequalities in health and use of health and long-term care are differences in health status or ability to use care across the population and between specific population groups. These differences (inequalities) may be considered unfair or avoidable, in which case they are referred to as inequities. For example, differences in health status based on socio-economic position or differences in use of care based on (in)ability to pay are considered inequities. Inequalities in health and use of care have been primarily studied in relation to the socio-economic characteristics of individuals (e.g. levels of income or wealth, educational achievement) and their communities or geographic location (e.g. economic development). But inequalities in health and use of care are just as relevant in relation to gender, age, ethnicity, migration status, disability, sexual orientation, and social exclusion.

Why are inequalities in health and use of care important?

Health is a basic good and human right and one of the main determinants of quality of life, social and economic development. The persistence of inequalities in health and use of care means that not all individuals are afforded the opportunity to lead healthy and fulfilling lives, thus limiting their agency. The persistence of systematic differences in health achievement and use of care goes against the principle of social justice and undermines social cohesion. They are also intertwined with other areas of welfare such as poverty and income inequality (both are a key social determinant of health and are in turn affected by health status), employment or pension policies, to mention a few examples.

What we offer?

We have a strong track record in research and policy analysis focused on reducing inequalities in health and use of care and promoting more equitable societies. More specifically, we:

  • Use quantitative and qualitative methods to analyse inequalities in health and use of care across different dimensions of social location (e.g. gender, income and education) with a particular focus on older people, life-course perspectives, long-term care and trends across time and cohorts.
  • Carry out comparative analyses of inequalities and successful policies to achieve more equitable health and long-term care systems across the UNECE region.
  • Examine the equity impact of social policies and work to define comprehensive, cross-sectoral approaches that can contribute to reducing disparities in health and wellbeing and their structural determinants.
  • Work with international organisations and advocacy groups to collate key information and create supporting materials for care professionals and public officials and to affect policy-making;
  • Organise multi-stakeholder events to support transnational and cross-disciplinary learning and encourage regular exchanges of knowledge between researchers, policy-makers and care professionals.

Project examples

Contact persons

Cassandra Simmons

Cassandra Simmons