Social determinants of health

About social determinants of health

The social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels. The social determinants of health are mostly responsible for health inequities - the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between countries.

Key concepts

Employment conditions

Measures to clarify how different types of jobs and the threat of unemployment affect workers’ health.

Social exclusion

The relational processes that lead to the exclusion of particular groups of people from engaging fully in community and social life.

Public health programmes and social determinants

Factors in the design and implementation of programs that increase access to health care for socially and economically disadvantaged groups.

Women and gender equity

Mechanisms, processes and actions that can be taken to reduce gender-based inequities in health by examining different areas.

Early child development

Well established evidence illustrates that opportunities provided to young children are crucial in shaping lifelong health and development status.


How globalization’s dynamics and processes affect health outcomes: trade liberalization, integration of production of goods.

Health systems

Innovative approaches that effectively incorporate action on social determinants of health.

Measurement and evidence

The development of methodologies and tools for measuring the causes, pathways and health outcomes of policy interventions.


Broad policy interventions related to healthy urbanization, including close examination of slum upgrading.