Should we equalize status in order to equalize health?

Morten Ebbe Juul Nielsen*, Xavier Landes, Martin Marchman Andersen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


If it is true, as suggested by Sir Michael Marmot and other researchers, that status impacts health and therefore accounts for some of the social gradient in health, then it seems to be the case that it would be possible to bring about more equality in health by equalizing status. The purpose of this article is to analyze this suggestion. First, we suggest a working definition of what status precisely is. Second, following a luck egalitarian approach to distributive justice, we consider whether and to which extent individuals are responsible themselves for their position in a status hierarchy. Third, we consider the contours of a difficult question, namely which political measures are feasible in order to reduce health-affective inequalities in status and fourth, whether or to what extent such measures are legitimate. We argue that on the basis of these considerations, we have at least some prima facie reasons to counter (at least some) status inequalities in order to equalize health.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPublic Health Ethics
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)104-113
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


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