Chapter

United States: Social Inequality and the Burden of Poor Health

LAURA D. KUBZANSKY, NANCY KRIEGER, ICHIRO KAWACHI, BEVERLY ROCKHILL, GILLIAN K. STEEL and LISA F. BERKMAN

in Challenging Inequities in Health

Published in print July 2001 | ISBN: 9780195137408
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199863983 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195137408.003.0009
United States: Social Inequality and the Burden of Poor Health

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The United States has the dubious distinction of ranking first among industrialized nations in inequalities in both income and wealth. It also manifests poorer health than many other developed nations and has experienced growing socioeconomic inequalities in health. This chapter draws attention to ways that inequality both shortens and impairs people's lives by focusing on premature mortality and functional disability. It measures health inequity as the disparity in these health outcomes across race/ethnicity, gender, and income group, as experienced in representative samples of the U.S. population. The results give a sense of both the relative unfairness and the burden of poor health in the United States. The chapter argues for the assessment of the full impact of disparities in health across the social gradient, not just on those at highest risk.

Keywords: USA; social inequality; poor health; race; ethnicity; income

Chapter.  9576 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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