Historic and Geographic Patterns of Health Inequalities

The British Academy
Number of pages


In November 2021, the British Academy, in partnership with the Academy of Medical Sciences, convened a roundtable on geographic and historic patterns of health inequalities in the UK. The roundtable followed a request from the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) in June 2021 to explore the geographic factors associated with historically poorer public health outcomes over the last 200 years.

The multidisciplinary approach needed to address such a question motivated us to bring together distinguished researchers from a range of disciplines represented by both Academies, as well as stakeholders from relevant health and public sector organisations. Health inequalities, like all inequalities, affect people on a personal level, and so the roundtable also included public and patient representatives.

The main report presents an extended summary of discussion at the roundtable, with the key findings and overarching themes which emerged. These address the evidence for differences in health outcomes as a function of place over the last 200 years, as well as how this evidence (or the lack of it) might inform effective policy changes to improve health outcomes and reduce disparities in future. A full list of roundtable participants and a copy of the roundtable briefing note, including the findings of an initial light-touch literature review, can be found in the annexes to this report.

Accompanying this is a short summary document, presenting the main themes of the roundtable.

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