Equality-Efficiency Tradeoffs in Population Health

Iñaki Permanyer, Centre for Demographic Studies
Ilya Kashnitsky , Interdisciplinary Centre On Population Dynamics, University Of Southern Denmark

While there is widespread agreement that increasing the average length of life in a population is a major social achievement, equity concerns have surfaced in the academic and policy-making arenas. Indeed, whenever general improvements are shared inequitably and benefit some groups to the detriment of others, it is difficult to speak about unequivocal social progress. This is why the recent years have witnessed a surge in interest for the study of lifespan inequality and its implications for the implementation of fair and well-informed population health policies. In this paper, we present novel methods to assess how ‘efficiency’ (i.e. overall/mean attainment) and ‘inequality’ contribute to the overall health performance of societies. Such methods allow investigating whether, and to what extent, the improvements or deteriorations we observe in population health can be attributable to changes in the average number of years individuals are expected to live (i.e. ‘efficiency’) or to the way in which those years of life are distributed across individuals (i.e. ‘inequality’). Using data from the Human Mortality Database, we identify those countries and years where the principles of ‘more efficiency’ and ‘less inequality’ go in the same or in opposite directions to identify potential tradeoffs between the two dimensions of health.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session 49. Flash Session Policy and Practice