November 07, 2019 | News | Suessmilch Lecture

Measuring health inequalities – and why we struggle to reduce them

© SDI Productions/

On November 12th, Alastair Leyland from the University of Glasgow, gave a lecture titled "Measuring health inequalities – and why we struggle to reduce them" as part of the Suessmilch Lecture series.


There are several ways of measuring health inequalities against a marker of socioeconomic position. Alastair Leyland will review some of these and show that some of the favoured measures – the concentration index, the slope index of inequality and the relative index of inequality, and their variants – are linked mathematically. He then explores why social interventions – interventions which improve health as a consequence of improving people’s socioeconomic position – will often result in increasing health inequalities rather than reducing them. He finishes by discussing the implications for the efforts made to reduce health inequalities by governments across the world.

About the speaker

© © Stephen McCann

Alastair Leyland is Professor of Population Health Statistics and Associate Director of the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit. He obtained his B.Sc. (Hons) in Mathematics and his M.Sc. in Applied Statistics from the University of Southampton and his Ph.D. from the University of Sunderland. He worked at the Public Health Research Unit at the University of Glasgow and, following its merger with the Medical Sociology Unit, has been working at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit since 1999.

He is on the Governing Board of the European Public Health Association (EUPHA), joint President of the Public Health Epidemiology section of EUPHA and serves on the committee of the Society for Social Medicine. He is a fellow of the Faculty of Public Health, a Chartered Statistician and a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society. He has been an editor of the European Journal of Public Health since December 2009 and chaired the European Public Health Conference when it was held in Glasgow in 2014. He served on the NIHR Public Health Research Funding Board from 2009-2015.

Time and Venue

Tuesday, November 12, 2019, 3 p.m. at the Institute's Auditorium


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The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.