How social inequities create health inequities: An integration of social and biological mechanisms
Department of Anthropology and Ecology, Evolution, Environment & Society Program, Dartmouth College
A remarkably consistent pattern of human variation is the social gradient in health. This is the observation that, both within and between societies, individuals who are socially disadvantaged tend to have poorer health outcomes and shorter life expectancy than individuals who are more socially advantaged. In this talk I will use data from Aotearoa New Zealand and the United States to discuss how exposure to early life stressors in particular can shape disparities in health across the life course. I will also discuss why environmental sensitivity to early life stress may have evolved in the first place. Finally, I will discuss the potential role of historical trauma in shaping contemporary inequities in health. The results of this work have implications for our understanding of how and why the social gradient in health has emerged.