This commentary assesses the impacts of the global austerity drive on health inequities in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008. In doing so, it first locates the origins of austerity within the 40 year history of neoliberal economic orthodoxy. It then describes the global diffusion of austerity since 2008, and its key policy tenets. It next describes the already visible impacts of austerity-driven welfare reform on trends in health equity, and documents how austerity has exacerbated health inequities in countries with weak social protection policies. We finally identify the components of an alternative policy response to the financial crisis than that of austerity, with specific reference to the need for shifts in national and global taxation policies and public social protection policies and spending. We conclude with a call for a reorientation of public policy towards making human health an overarching global policy goal, and how this aligns with the multilaterally agreed upon Sustainable Development Goals.
- Health inequities
- Social determinants of health
- Social protection