In a new contribution to the “What Is Inequality?” series, Julia Lynch asks, “What happens when politicians, policymakers, and even researchers begin to frame the problem of social inequality in health terms?” Through extensive research on health policy debates in Europe, Lynch finds that the otherwise laudable emphasis on the social determinants of health inequality can have counterproductive effects. She particularly focuses on the tendency for health inequality issues to become dominated by health professionals, and to the construal of the issue as so complicated that it draws attention away from economic policy instruments that might more systematically reduce inequalities, including health inequalities.
Julia Lynch is a political scientist who studies the comparative politics of health and social policies in advanced industrial democracies, particularly Western Europe and North America. For the last ten years, her research has centered on three themes: public beliefs about equity in the realm of health and health care, mainly in the United States; the relationship between health and home mortgage foreclosure, again mainly in the United States; and the politics of policymaking surrounding health inequalities by race, gender, socioeconomic status, and region in the United States and Europe. Prof. Lynch is a former fellow of the SSRC’s International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF) Program.