Capabilities, human flourishing, and the health gap

Authored by: Michael Marmot

The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Public Health

Print publication date:  October  2022
Online publication date:  October  2022

Print ISBN: 9781138938823
eBook ISBN: 9781315675411
Adobe ISBN:


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Health and health equity are good measures of how well societies are meeting the needs of their members. Understanding these needs and what can be done about them has been the focus of my research and policy formulations aimed at reducing health inequalities. In our English review of health inequalities, Fair Society Healthy Lives, we emphasized six domains for action: early childhood, education, employment and working conditions, sufficient income for healthy living, healthy communities, and behaviors. Key concepts of Amartya Sen have been of great importance, in particular the notion that relative inequality with respect to income translates into absolute inequality with respect to capabilities; and the central importance of freedoms. We need to take action on the social conditions that make agency a possibility. While uptake of these ideas has been far from uniform, there is sufficient concern across the world to provide encouragement that a movement for health equity is a reality.

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