IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this book chapter

Equity in health

In: Handbook of Health Economics


  • Williams, Alan
  • Cookson, Richard


Equity in health has to be distinguished from equity in access to health care, or equity in the distribution of health care resources. We take as a working definition of health for our purposes the number of quality adjusted life years that a person may expect to enjoy over his or her lifetime. Although we mostly follow the economists' custom of regarding equity as synonymous with reducing inequalities in health, we also consider the much richer variety of concepts employed by philosophers when discussing distributive justice. Here however we have distinguished notions of justice which are essentially procedural from those which are substantive, concentrating mainly on the latter. What we have sought to do is to identify the implications of various philosophical theories of justice for the way in which a welfare economist might appraise a particular distribution of health within a community. To do this we distinguish theories which place constraints on admissible outcomes (the health opportunity set), from theories which require the social welfare function (or maximand) to have particular properties. This classification is summarised in the Table 1, which is the key exhibit around which the analysis and exposition is organised.

Suggested Citation

  • Williams, Alan & Cookson, Richard, 2000. "Equity in health," Handbook of Health Economics,in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 35, pages 1863-1910 Elsevier.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:heachp:1-35

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:heachp:1-35. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.