Paper Example. Operational Definitions of Inequality and Inequity

Published: 2023-03-19
Paper Example. Operational Definitions of Inequality and Inequity
Essay type:  Definition essays
Categories:  Community Community health Social issue
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1035 words
9 min read

The terms inequality and inequity are sometimes confused, but they have different meanings, implying that they cannot be used interchangeably. Inequity means unfair, avoidable differences in a population that arise as a result of cultural exclusion, corruption, and poor governance. The term inequality, on the other hand, describes the disproportionate distribution of wealth, and health, including health resources. It occurs because of the lack of resources and also because of genetic factors. Inequity is unfair and indefensible, and it invokes moral outrage. Inequity occurs as an outcome of human failure, and it can cause avoidable diseases and even deaths. In most instances, this aspect is measured in terms of resource distribution and inequality in health. Scholars have argued that there is no reason for significant gender differences in access to health resources within a specific jurisdiction other than the failure of governance. This phenomenon implies that essential health services within a country ought to be available to all according to people's needs. Within every population, nonetheless, there are significant differences in people's health status. But because all people have a human right to health, there is a need for universal access to primary health services. Therefore, the government should implement social policies to address inequity because it correlates with higher inequality, lower levels of economic growth, poor health, and increased social problems.

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Inequity and Inequality in Contemporary Societies

A significant difference in the quality of life and even life expectancy reflects the effects of inequity in world populations. In developed countries, for instance, life expectancy is more than 80 years while that of economically-disadvantaged countries is less than 45 years. In the latter, governance is weak and often corrupt. This aspect explains inadequate health resources and also low life expectancy. There is evidence that the life expectancy of disadvantaged groups in countries where health resources are insufficient is typically ten more years below the average. This issue is attributed to inequity in health and resources. In 2009, the Commission on the Social Determinants of Health raised concerns that significant differences in life expectancy are equivalent to the social injustice that the world should address. Inequality in health resources constitutes inequity, where there are substantial differences in wealth distribution.

An example of a situation where inequity is apparent in the contemporary world is when industrialized nations give rise to the burden of diseases in developing countries. Industrial activities of rich nations trigger social problems that affect emerging countries. An example is global warming, among other social issues. Scholars have argued that the failure of rich countries to meet their commitments to global health is equivalent to global health inequity.

Inequity in various forms is one of the primary causes of poverty, conflicts, and social injustice in society. In most instances, children are the victims of the consequences of inequalities. The literature is in consensus that inequality, either vertical, horizontal, or in groups, is particularly unjust. However, world leaders should pay special attention to disparities that affect people's chances, including nutrition, education, and, more importantly, health. Scholars have argued that the assessment of inequalities in contemporary societies should not focus on capabilities but rather on functionings. However, there is a contentious debate on whether the measure of inequality ought to be extended to a broader assessment of welfare. Modern economists tend to define inequalities in terms of earnings. This variation in money income is supposedly a measure of economic well-being. Researchers have associated higher income inequalities with governmental corruption, higher mortality, and various physical and mental illness. Besides, inequality correlates with individual happiness and well-being.

Social Policy to Mitigate the Effects of Inequality and Inequity

Social inequities cause health inequalities in a population, which in turn, results from the social determinants of health (SDoH). So, an ethically defensible policy of addressing social problems that result from inequities and inequalities at the national and international levels should consider all health-related determinants in a population. Disadvantages that accumulate throughout a person's life arise even before birth. This way, the social policy uses SDoH to improve housing conditions for vulnerable populations like the elderly. At a national level, the government should use SDoH to promote early childhood development, provide first-hand employment, educational opportunities, and social protection to vulnerable populations. This policy is not only ethnically defensive, but it also offers long-term solutions to the issue.

Social exclusion and poverty are two primary determinants of health at individual, family, and community levels. SDoH policy recognizes that conditions in which people work, live, and grow have a significant influence on the factors that cause inequalities at an individual, community, national, and international level. For the case of income inequalities, taxation is an ethically defensible policy at a national level. A strategy that addresses the two problems in an international context involves policies that compel businesses and individual countries to be socially responsible for the challenges they cause. A perfect example is the effects of businesses on the environment and problems like global warming.


Inequity causes unfair, unavoidable differences in a specific population. Poor governance, corruption, and exclusion are the primary factors that trigger inequities at the community and national levels. Inequalities, on the other hand, arise from the uneven distribution of resources, which causes variations in health and resource control. Policies that focus on people's SDoH are not only effective and ethically permissible, but it also provides long-term solutions.


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