Economic arguments for addressing the social determinants of health inequalities

Publisher/Organizer: DETERMINE - EU Consortium for Action on the Socioeconomic Determinants of Health (SDH)
Publication date: 2009
Number of pages: 31
Language: English


"An overview of how the framework for identifying and exploring economic arguments for addressing social determinants of health inequalities was developed. It also describes how the data was collected and provides general comments on responses received.

This chapter presents the findings of a literature review conducted in June 2008 together with further research in April 2009. The review was undertaken to help inform and shape further data collection by establishing the main economic arguments for addressing social determinants of health inequalities.

Health can be considered in economic terms as both a capital and a consumption good. In the case of health as a capital good, people in good health attract a higher value than those in poor health due to their greater ability to be economically productive. Health as a consumption good is concerned with the contribution that good health makes to an individual’s wellbeing, happiness or satisfaction.

Targeted investment to address health inequalities by action on social determinants of health is more cost effective than paying later for the consequences of these inequalities. It follows then that addressing health inequalities is not only a matter of social justice but also contributes to economic growth.

The aim of this task was to better understand if and how economic arguments are being used to address social determinants of health inequalities within selected member states and by the institutions of the European Union. It is intended to use findings from this task to achieve more widespread adoption of effective and proven approaches to tackling health inequalities. The objectives of the task were:

  • To explore opportunities and challenges to using economic arguments to address social determinants of health inequalities.
  • To identify examples of relevant economic evaluations that consider outcomes in terms of health and health inequalities.