Persistence despite action? Measuring the patterns of health inequality in England (1997–2007)
The persistence of socioeconomic inequalities in health is a major policy concern in England, which was addressed by the new labour government in 1997 which prioritised curtailing health inequalities as a policy goal. This paper addresses two related questions: first, it empirically examines the dynamic patterns of socioeconomic inequalities in health in England from 1997 to 2007 by estimating concentration indices over three measures of health, namely self-reported health, long standing illness and health limitations, calculated across different years of the Health Survey for England. Second, using regression based decomposition analysis, we explore whether specifically prioritised areas (spearhead local authority areas in the bottom fifth nationally on health indicators) exhibit a different pattern of inequality in the years following a (2005) targeted intervention. Results suggest that patterns of health inequalities in England exhibit no significant variation from 1997 to 2007, although importantly, some reduction on inequalities in health, measured through self-assessed health, is found. Patterns of socioeconomic inequalities in health in spearhead areas are not found to be significantly different than health inequalities in non-spearhead areas.
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