Inégalités riches-pauvres en matière de santé

ROTTERDAM – Les personnes se situant le plus bas sur l’échelle socio-économique (ce que l’on détermine selon leur niveau d’instruction, leur profession ou leurs revenus) vivent en moyenne moins longtemps et en moins bonne santé que celles se évoluant sur des échelons supérieurs. L’espérance de vie à la naissance est en effet susceptible de varier à hauteur de 5 à 10 ans en fonction de la situation sociale et économique de l’individu, les plus pauvres souffrant 10 à 20 ans de plus de la maladie ou du handicap au cours de leur existence par rapport aux plus riches.

Une telle situation n’aurait pas été surprenante au XIXe siècle, compte tenu de la faiblesse du revenu moyen, de l’ampleur de la pauvreté ainsi que du manque de sécurité sociale. Or, ces chiffres se vérifient encore aujourd’hui au sein des pays à haut revenu, dont ceux présentant des indices élevés de prospérité économique et de développement humain – et même dans les États d’Europe occidentale les plus généreux sur le plan social.

Depuis la fin de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, les pays d’Europe de l’Ouest s’efforcent de réduire les inégalités socio-économiques, ou d’en atténuer les conséquences au moyen d’un impôt progressif, de programmes de sécurité sociale, ainsi que de nombreuses prestations financées par la collectivité, telles que le logement social, l’instruction publique, la santé, la culture et les loisirs. Mais si ces politiques ont permis de réduire les inégalités dans certains domaines socio-économiques, et notamment en matière de revenus, de qualité des logements et d’accès à la santé, elles se sont avérées insuffisantes dans l’élimination des inégalités en termes de santé.

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