But as our research shows, economic inequality is not only a health issue. More unequal societies are more likely to experience poorer literacy rates, higher incidents of drug addiction, greater levels of violence and a multitude of other social ills. Just last week government advisers called for measures to reduce inequality in order to reduce child poverty and remove barriers to social mobility. Such measures would allow more of us to live longer, healthier, more productive lives. But talk is cheap. If we want a healthier society the Government must take steps now to reduce the UK's dangerous and corrosively high levels of economic inequality.
The framework can be used to review current practice and ensure that actions contribute to improving the health of individuals and populations and to reducing inequalities in health. It also highlights the importance of factors outside the direct control of the health sector in shaping the health of our population. Those outside the health sector – particularly The Treasury, the social welfare, education, housing and labour market sectors, and local government – can contribute significantly to the task of reducing inequalities in health. Success in reducing inequalities in health brings positive results for the individual, the economy and society. It enables New Zealanders to live healthier, longer lives. In turn, a healthier population will increase the country’s prosperity.