Socio-economic inequalities and health

Research using Understanding Society shows how inequality really can get 'under our skin'.


The coronavirus pandemic has brought discussion on economic, social and health inequalities in the UK into the open, but researchers have been investigating the links between our social and economic life and our health for many years.

This comic, from artist Karen Rubin, is based on research by Dr Apostolos Davillas, Professor Micheala Benzeval and Professor Meena Kumari and looks at whether a person's social and economic position affects the level of inflammation in their body.

The researchers looked at two markers for inflamation, C-reactive protein and fibrinogen, in blood samples given by Understanding Society participants. These two markers naturally change as people age, but this research found that the inflammation levels of those experiencing more social and economic inequalities rose faster and peaked at an earlier age than in those people who had more social and economic security. The research suggests that people in lower socioeconomic groups have more exposure to chronic inflammation across their lifecourse. 

You can read the full research paper here and you can download the comic here