Health, Income… And Justice for all!

On Friday June 3, 2016 Dr Tom Van Ourti will publicly accept his appointment as endowed professor of applied health economics, with focus on health and inequality, at Erasmus School of Economics, on behalf of the Vereniging Trustfonds. His inaugural lecture is entitled Health, Income…And Justice for All! 

Longevity and morbidity are systematically related to income. This pattern is observed between and within countries and throughout time. Measurement of these health inequalities is useful to monitor progress over time or to benchmark against other countries, but it is often forgotten that the mere action of measuring calls for normative judgments. In his inaugural lecture Van Ourti will focus on the distributional concerns about the income-health gradient.

In the first part, he will discuss commonly imposed value judgments, including those that are implicit in the monitoring of health inequalities in the Netherlands. Most health inequality indices assume, for example, that reducing the health-income association is socially preferable. It is also assumed that these value judgments should apply universally.

In the second part of his lecture, van Ourti will challenge this viewpoint and argue that our moral concerns are shaped by the underlying causes and consequences leading to the health-income gradient. Does good health cause high income? Or does high income lead to good health? And should society be worried when health inequalities would be the result of the deliberate choice of those with lower incomes to smoke? The ‘equality of opportunity’ approach is a promising framework to enrich the measurement exercise of health inequalities with insights from the positive economics underlying the income gradient in health.

About Tom Van Ourti
Tom Van Ourti lectures methods of economic research and coordinates the master Health Economics of Erasmus University Rotterdam. His research mainly focuses on distributional concerns in health economics. He studies the link between health and socioeconomic status using social choice theory and micro econometric methods. His research has been financed by FWO, NWO, NETSPAR, NIA and AXA Research Fund. Van Ourti has published in leading journals in economics (including Review of Economics and Statistics, Journal of Health Economics) and in epidemiology and public health (including Bulletin of the World Health Organization). 

Tom Van Ourti holds a Ph.D. in applied economics (2004) from the University of Antwerp. He became postdoctoral researcher at the University of Antwerp and lecturer at the institute of Health Policy and Management of Erasmus University Rotterdam thereafter. He has been affiliated with Erasmus School of Economics since 2006, first as an assistant professor, and since 2010 as an associate professor in health economics. He was a visiting researcher at the University of Melbourne in 2007-2008.

More information

The ceremony will start promptly at 4 pm in the Senaatszaal, Erasmus building, Burgemeester Oudlaan 50 in Rotterdam.

For more information, please contact Ronald de Groot, Communications Officer at Erasmus School of Economics:, mobile phone: +31 6 53641 846.