How to reduce health inequalities for children
Despite the dramatic advances that have been made in health and life expectancies in recent years, large inequalities remain between higher and lower income groups. There are five- to ten-fold differences in the rates of some illnesses and a 10-year gap in life expectancy across different levels of socioeconomic status.
Many social inequalities in health begin in early childhood. The likelihood that children are healthy, happy and do well in school is significantly and progressively greater as social class rises. But it is unclear when socioeconomic conditions have the most influence on health and which protective factors matter most during sensitive stages of development.
Dr. Frank Elgar, Canada Research Chair in Social Inequalities in Child Health, is using national and international data on child health and social development to explore these issues. He is examining the scale of social inequalities in child health, whether these differences have widened or narrowed over the years and which social influences and policies shape health inequalities in children.
With gaps widening between the rich and the poor, it is vital to the health of future generations to reduce health inequalities early in life. Elgar’s research will increase our understanding of how health is shaped and constrained by the settings in which we live.