Health Inequalities

Key values for modern societies include safeguarded levels of physical and mental health, high life expectancy and equal access to healthcare. Although inequalities in health between individuals are unavoidable, countries are also faced with substantial and systematic differences in health between groups (‘health inequalities’).

Ample scientific evidence suggests that such inequalities are largely dependent on how well off an individual is as regards his or her socio-economic position, level of education or physical environment. However, scientists from different disciplines disagree on how exactly these social gradients are causally linked to health and, consequently, on how best to mitigate the vulnerability of certain societal groups.


In a bid to align these varying perspectives, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), together with the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities (ALLEA) and the Federation of European Academies of Sciences (FEAM), has initiated a multi-disciplinary project aimed at reviewing existing research findings and striking a balance between the outcomes of different disciplines.

ALLEA and FEAM have set up a Scientific Committee of experts on health inequalities to oversee the work carried out within the project. Covering academic backgrounds such as public health, epidemiology, genetics, economics and social sciences, the Committee provides guidance with a view to facilitating a tailored interdisciplinary debate.

This project focuses on:

  • causal effects of socio-economic position on health
  • specific mediating factors contributing to health inequalities
  • effectiveness of interventions and policies to address health inequalities

Members of the Scientific Committee

  • Prof. Johan Mackenbach, Chair (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences)
  • Prof. Giuseppe Costa (University of Turin, Italy)
  • Prof. Johannes Siegrist (Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Germany)
  • Prof. Domantas Jasilionis (Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania)
  • Prof. Alfred Spira (French Academy of Medicine)
  • Prof. Denny Vågerö (Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences)
  • Prof. Clare Bambra (Academy of Social Sciences, United Kingdom)
  • Dr Bogdan Wojtyniak (Polish Academy of Sciences)
  • Prof. George Davey Smith (Royal Society of Edinburgh, United Kingdom)
  • Prof. Dame Margaret Whitehead (Academy of Medical Sciences, United Kingdom)
  • Prof. Guillem Lopez Casasnovas (Royal Academy of Medicine of Catalonia)
  • Prof. Anne-Marie Nybo Andersen (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
  • Dr Jean Philippe de Jong, Scientific Secretary (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences)