Advancing the Study of Health Inequality: Fundamental Causes as Systems of Exposure

Riley, Alicia R.
SSM Population Health

We tend to study health inequalities as differentials in disease and death that exist within a population. But the most important cause of health inequality is social stratification, and social stratification only varies between populations. Here, I highlight a way forward in the study of health inequality that resolves this mismatch of analytical levels: we must study the fundamental causes as systems of exposure. Through this critical review of the literature, I argue that the explicit study of variation in social stratification is the next frontier in research on fundamental causes of health inequality.