Candidate Number: 209015 Word Count: 2713
Critically assess the relationship between social inequalities and public health.
In the last decade, public health has had an increasing impact on the way we view our well-being, focusing less on how disease relates to the individual health and more on how social inequalities does. This change in focus on health has determined how much of an impact social, economic and political factors play in the cause of illnesses and disease around the world. Through stereotypical societies, individual behaviours and prolonging hierarchies, the lack of health care available for those compromised by social inequality are detrimental for their life expectancy as they are not provided with the health care they require. “The rising social inequalities that can be seen in nearly every country in the world today present not just a moral danger, but a mortal danger as well.” The relationship between social inequalities and public health is an undeniable one that is intensifying with the notion that poor health is more and more becoming due to social inequalities. Undoubtedly income is the overall factor that ties public health to social inequalities as fundamentally, the distribution of income is what creates social inequality. The term income however, can be divided into the following five models: behavioural model, materialist model, psycho-social model, life course model and educational model. Each of these models will be deeply analysed to assess the extent to which social inequality caused by income, triggers poor public health.
1. Behavioural model
The behavioural model looks at how public behaviour changes towards their health depending on their social status. There are many social class differences which either help to promote or damage health behaviours such as active lifestyle, dietary choices, consumption of alcohol, tobacco and drugs. Long-term studies have found that health behaviour caused by social class differences have had an impact on mortality rates over many years. This is because differences in social position help create a perception of health for the future, whether it be good or bad. Those who are more affluent, tend to be more confident about their future aspirations and will, therefore, invest in a healthier lifestyle for themselves. In the last two years, the prices of gym memberships and healthy foods have increased due to the sudden craze for ‘healthy living’. However, this kind of healthy behaviour is not affordable for many, highlighting a correlation between public health and social inequality.
2. Materialistic model
Whilst the behavioural model looks more towards a person’s personal ambition to have a healthier lifestyle and how social status affects this decision, the materialistic model illustrates how income can cause physical problems which lead to either greater or poorer health choic...