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September 1998 (Volume 76)
S. Leonard Syme
Milbank Memorial Fund
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It is now well established that inequalities in income lead to high morbidity and mortality rates. Certain explanations for this phenomenon are explored: (1) Instead of income inequalities causing disease, the inequalities are determined by powerful cultural forces. (2) The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. (3) Wealthier people can buy the means to protect their health. (4) Poorer people suffer not from poverty, but from relative deprivation. (5) Those with the weakest genes drift into the lower income groups. It is difficult to develop interventions directed to these possibilities. The concept of “control and destiny” is a possible explanation for the relation between inequalities and disease; unlike the other explanations, this idea is amenable to intervention.
Author(s): S. Leonard Syme
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Volume 76, Issue 3 (pages 493–505) DOI: 10.1111/1468-0009.00100 Published in 1998
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The Milbank Quarterly’s multidisciplinary approach and commitment to applying the best empirical research to practical policymaking offers in-depth assessments of the social, economic, historical, legal, and ethical dimensions of health and health care policy.