Joint FEAM-ALLEA-KNAW Project on Health Inequalities


Despite progress in health outcomes, all countries are faced with persistent health differences amongst socioeconomic groups. It has been reported that people have a life expectancy varying between 5 and 10 years, sometimes 15 years, depending on their socioeconomic positions.

Health inequalities are thus a major concern for both scientists and policymakers. In spite of research efforts, the causal pathways that link socioeconomic conditions with health inequalities are still under debate among scientists. This creates uncertainty about how to effectively reduce health inequalities through policy interventions.

FEAM, together with the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities (ALLEA) and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) is working on a project aimed at reviewing existing research and striking a balance between the findings of different disciplines. A multi-disciplinary scientific committee comprising experts of FEAM and ALLEA academies is overseeing this project.

The project started in 2018 with a discussion paper prepared by KNAW that served as background to the international symposium on health inequalities (24 May 2018). Key researchers from different backgrounds discussed health inequalities with a view to contributing to the best scientific evidence available to inform public policy.

In 2019, the scientific committee on Health Inequalities will organise a series of meetings to:

  • Discuss existing scientific evidence with regard to: (1) the causal effect of a person’s socioeconomic position on health (causality); (2) what specific factors explain the relationship between socioeconomic position and health (mediation); (3) what interventions are more effective to reduce health inequalities.
  • Stimulate consensus around these topics through a draft document that will summarize the current state of scientific knowledge about health inequalities and put forward recommendations for future research and policy work.

Members of the Scientific Committee

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

Related Publications

Health Inequalities,  ALLEA-FEAM Symposium Report, 2018
“Health Inequalities Research: New Methods, Better Insights?”,  ALLEA-FEAM Report, 2021

Related work

FEAM’s activities on Migration and Health

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