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Healthier Societies: From Analysis to Action
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Edited by Jody Heymann, Clyde Hertzman, Morris L. Barer, and Robert G. Evans (2006)

While extensive research has demonstrated that social determinants make a substantial difference to everyone’s health, it can be difficult at some level to understand how social conditions actually affect biology. Moreover, adults have become dependent on medical care, thinking it’s too late to take preventive steps for their own health. Of course, it’s preferable for children to grow up in a society that invests in promoting health, thereby increasing their likelihood of living free of illness and injury for many years, but what is to be done for adults? If childhood experiences have already predestined adults to serious health problems, isn’t it better for them to live in a country that invests mostly in medical care?

Healthier Societies: From Analysis to Action addresses the fundamental questions that need to be answered before countries will invest seriously in improving social conditions, as a way of improving the health of the whole population. The book is divided into three parts:
  • Part I addresses the extent to which health is determined by biological factors or by social factors, and, more fundamentally, how the biological and social factors interact.
  • Part II examines four case studies that demonstrate the ways in which social change can dramatically affect adults’ health, as well as launch children’s lives onto healthy trajectories. This section analyzes nutrition, working conditions, social inequalities, and geographic disparities.
  • Part III outlines the challenge of translating into action the research described in the first two sections. Even when people are convinced that social factors are as important as biological ones in determining health, and even when they believe that the impact is enormous in both adulthood and childhood, the challenge of changing public policies and programs still remains. This last section takes a serious look at what would be involved in meeting this challenge.
417 pages, hardback.


Table of Contents
Preface
Acknowledgments
About the Editors
About the Contributors
Healthier Societies: An Introduction


Part I: The Complex Relationship between Social and Biologic Determinants of Health
1. Interactive Role of Genes and the Environments
2. Biological Pathways Linking the Social Environment, Development, and Health
3. Global and Local Perspectives on Population Health
4. A Life Course Approach to Health and Human Development
5. Universal Medical Care and Health Inequalities: Right Objective, Insufficient Tools

Part II: An In-depth Look at Several Determinants of Health
6. Food, Nutrition, and Population Health: From Scarcity to Social Inequalities
7. Work and Health: New Evidence and Enhanced Understandings
8. Income Inequality as a Determinant of Health
9. Role of Geography in Inequalities in Health and Human Development

Part III: Moving from Research to Policy
10. Social Welfare Models, Labor Markets, and Health Outcomes
11. Changing Trends in Economic Well-being in OECD Countries: What Measure Is Most Relevant for Health?
12. Reallocating Resources across Public Sectors to Improve Population Health
13. Taking Different Approaches to Child Policy
14. Where Do We Go from Here? Translating Research to Policy

Index
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