Explaining health inequalities in Australia: the contribution of income, wealth and employment

Joanne Flavel, Martin McKee, Fisaha Haile Tesfay, Connie Musolino, Toby Freeman, Helen Van Eyk, Fran Baum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Studies show widespread widening of socioeconomic and health inequalities. Comprehensive primary health care has a focus on equity and to enact this requires more data on drivers of the increase in inequities. Hence, we examined trends in the distribution of income, wealth, employment and health in Australia. 

Methods: We analysed data from the Public Health Information Development Unit and Australian Bureau of Statistics. Inequalities were assessed using rate ratios and the slope index of inequality. 

Results: We found that the social gradient in health, income, wealth and labour force participation has steepened in Australia, and inequalities widened between the quintile living in the most disadvantaged areas and the quintile living in the least disadvantaged areas. 

Conclusion: Widening income, wealth and employment inequalities have been accompanied by increasing health inequalities, and have reinforced and amplified adverse health effects, leading to increased mortality inequality. Effective comprehensive primary health care needs to be informed by an understanding of structural factors driving economic and health inequities.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian Journal of Primary Health
Early online date13 Jul 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Jul 2022


  • Australia
  • economic inequality
  • health equity
  • health inequalities
  • social class
  • social determinants of health
  • social gradient
  • socioeconomic factors


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