Three essays on health inequalities
Ameed Saabneh, University of Pennsylvania
Health inequalities exist in many societies and mostly reflect inequalities between social and ethnic/racial groups. This dissertation consists of three independent studies of health inequalities. Each study examines a different source of inequality and focuses on a particular health outcome. The first study investigates inequalities in old-age morbidity between Palestinians and Jews in Israel. It examines the role of social inequalities between the two groups in creating gaps in their health statuses. The second study investigates the effect of maternal employment on child survival in India. In particular, it examines reasons for the higher mortality among children of working mothers compared to children of nonworking mothers. The third study focuses on differences in child survival and nutritional status between Copts and Muslims in Egypt and examines the contribution of socioeconomic and regional differences to Copts' higher child mortality during the 1980s and early 1990s. All three studies use propensity score matching. Results from the first study show that morbidity gaps between Palestinians and Jews in Israel are only partially explained by social inequalities. In addition, it shows that the relevance of social inequality within the majority group to understanding minority-majority health gaps. Results from the second study indicate that children of low-status female workers face a higher risk of dying relative to children of nonworking mothers, which most likely results because of extra pressure put on poor working mothers who have to fulfill the role of income earners and care givers in addition to fulfilling time-consuming domestic work. Results from the third study indicate a higher mortality among Copts in spite of their moderate socioeconomic advantage and higher concentration in urban areas. The Copt-Muslim child mortality gap results partly due to higher concentration of Copts in Upper Egypt, a region characterized by high mortality rates relative to the other regions of Egypt.^
Middle Eastern Studies|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies|Health Sciences, Health Care Management|Sociology, Demography
Saabneh, Ameed, "Three essays on health inequalities" (2013). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3594849.
Since November 19, 2013
In the modern society, issues of discrimination, inequality, racism, violation of human rights among others inform world policy. Why so much concern on such concepts with governments having laws governing people? Would it be ignorance, neglect or social injustice has prevailed? Unfair practices characterize social injustice. The unfairness arises from systematic deficiency of access to resources. Despite the existence of laws to promote justice, prevalence of injustice is rampant. Unfortunately, social prejudice is a hindrance to development in a country.
Just institutions do reinforce a sense of well-being, stability and satisfaction among individuals. Different arms of the justice system such as the retributive, distributive, restorative and procedural mitigate against chauvinism in society. Nonetheless, there exist several silent cases of unfairness that never get to courts. Rawls indicate that justice occurs when people are free and equal. In essence, possession of the two morals that include a sense of justice and conception of good, constitute freedom. These two basic concepts form a society’s framework of social, political and economic institutions and their fit into a social system of cooperation. Basically, justice entails equal opportunities to individuals.
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Inequality has been a major factor affecting social justice. Social, economic or gender inequality across communities has led to rise of unfair treatment of persons on either one side of the inequality scale. For instance, income inequalities arising from employment discriminatory aspects do affect the poverty-rich gap. In most states, the poor make up the largest portion of the population compared to the affluent. As Marx states in his theory of social stratification, the ‘haves’ always suppress the ‘have not’ to maintain their status quo as owners of production. Such a society fails to recognize social justice. Often, the wealthy influence country laws which do function to protect their interest, rarely addressing the needs of the poor. Economic growth characterized by increase in Gross Domestic Product in nations never address inherent human development issues. Aspects of inequality predominate in wealthy states. Thus, justice would take place by empowering the less advantaged people and giving them an equal platform to operate without bias.
Gender inequality as a social injustice concept also affects development of persons. Females get low wages, less access to resources like education and land with suppressed political say. Fairness calls for liberty to all individuals. Inequality causes other social evils like violence, abuse and engagement of the ill-treated individuals in terrorism acts. In addition, involvement in drug abuse and other crimes would arise as the discriminated group makes effort to attain their recognition in society. Embracing and implementing human right concept will be helpful in working towards the realization of social impartiality.
The social functionalism theory stipulate that every system, institution and model interactively work together to maintain a state of social equilibrium. For prejudice to prevail, not only law enforcers have the task but every person. Equality requires a collective measure within communities that meets social and individual needs. Most injustices occur due to failure of accountability among individuals. Social cohesion creates resilience against socially destructive practices such as racism, inequality and other unfair treatment.
Similarly, confrontation of discriminatory practices by the involved parties acts as a remedy against any societal unfairness. Moreover, legal authorities should be strict in enforcing rules and offer deserving punishment to lawbreakers. Also, community members should be made aware of their rights and the operation of the social justice system. This will enhance the development of a just social order within modern societies faced with immerse social injustices.