How can we close the health gap?
Action Line 'Health Equity'

Action Line Health Equity

The top 1 percent richest Americans can expect to live 10 to 15 years longer than the poorest 1 percent. Also egalitarian countries, such as the Netherlands, face substantial health gaps across socioeconomic groups. The literature has documented the magnitudes of these disparities, but less progress has been made in identifying how they can be reduced.

The Action Line 'Health Equity' uses natural experiments to identify interventions that are successful in reducing health inequalities. The researchers of this Action Line are also developing a normative framework to help policy makers with the trade-off between maximising total population health and minimising health inequality when prioritising interventions. They are currently studying interventions in the domain of perinatal health, prevention and preventive medicine, mental healthcare and social and public policy, including disability insurance.

  • Read more about the steering group members of this Action Line: Alex Burdorf, Eddy van Doorslaer and Johan Mackenbach.

    • Alex Burdorf is head of the Department of Public Health at Erasmus MC. As a Professor he is fascinated by the large health inequalities around the world as well as in Rotterdam. Through his studies he tries to understand which factors are driving these health inequalities, which programmes and interventions are required to improve population health for all persons, and how we can use observational data to evaluate effectiveness of policies and programmes. His particular interest is how and when paid employment can contribute to a better health.

    • Eddy van Doorslaer is a Professor of Health Economics at Erasmus School of Economics and at Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management. He studied econometrics in Antwerp and health economics in York, and obtained his PhD at Maastricht University. He has taught and researched in health economics generally and has published extensively on the measurement and explanation of inequalities in health and inequities in healthcare. Current research interests include the examination of causal mechanisms underlying the socioeconomic gradient in health, both early and late in the life cycle and on equity and efficiency in the provision of long-term care.

    • Johan Mackenbach is Professor of Public Health at the Department of Public Health at Erasmus MC. He is also honorary professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He is involved with two Action Lines of the Smarter Choices initiative: Prevention and Health Inequalities. His research interests are in social epidemiology, medical demography and health policy. He has (co-)authored more than 700 papers in international, peer-reviewed scientific journals, as well as a number of books. He is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Academia Europaea. 

  • Read more about Action Line Leader Tom van Ourti.

    • Tom Van Ourti is Professor of Applied Health Economics with a focus on health and inequality. His research focuses on understanding the socio-economic health gradient, with specific interest in impact evaluation, preventive care, measurement theory of health inequalities, and the elicitation of social preferences for income and health. He has published in journals including the Review of Economics and Statistics, Journal of Health Economics, and the Bulletin of the World Health Organisation. He teaches applied econometrics and health economics, and coordinates the master Health Economics of the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

  • Read more about postdoctoral researcher Carlos Riumallo-Herl.

    • Carlos Riumallo-Herl is a postdoctoral researcher at Erasmus School of Economics working on the effect of social and health policies on health inequalities. He also is the managing member of the Rotterdam Global Health Initiative at Erasmus School of Economics. His research interests are on health economics and economics of aging, and more specifically the role of health and social policies in healthy aging, financial risk protection, and long-term impact of health interventions on economic outcomes in developing countries. Additionally, he is working on the development and collection of a health and aging survey in South Africa, the effect of old-age pensions on health, and the development of new welfare measures that combine life expectancy and household income.

  • Read more about the PhD candidates in this Action Line: Lizbeth Burgos Ochoa, Jawa Issa, Francisca Vargas Lopes and Joaquim Vidiella-Martin.

    • Lizbeth Burgos Ochoa is a PhD candidate at the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department at Erasmus MC. She obtained her master’s degree in Methods and Statistics for the Behavioral, Biomedical, and Social Sciences at Utrecht University in 2018. Her PhD project 'Health inequity in the early life' aims to study the relationship between socioeconomic status and health outcomes from birth to early childhood. Her research interests include health equity, birth outcomes, neighborhood effects and statistical methodology.

    • Jawa Issa is a PhD candidate at the Erasmus School of Health Policy and Management supervised by Prof. Owen O’Donnell, Prof. Tom Van Ourti and Prof. Pieter van Baal. She completed her master’s degree in Economics at the University of Ottawa (Canada). Her project focuses on conducting robust welfare evaluation of health distributions with regard to both efficiency and equity. Her topics of interest include health economics, welfare economics, inequality measurement and econometrics.

    • Francisca Vargas Lopes is a PhD candidate at the Department of Public Health at Erasmus MC. Her supervisors are Prof. Johan Mackenbach, from the same department, and Prof. Tom Van Ourti and Dr. Carlos Riumallo-Herl, both from the department of Applied Economics of Erasmus School of Economics. Francisca aims to conduct an impact evaluation of policies relevant to health and healthcare inequalities in developed countries. Her current topics of interest include the impact of cost-sharing in healthcare consumption and continuity of care, disparities in access to mental healthcare services, the impact of deinstitutionalisation/community-based care for severe mental illness patients and smoking cessation.

    • Joaquim Vidiella-Martin is a PhD Candidate at Erasmus School of Economics and the Tinbergen Institute, supervised by Prof. Tom Van Ourti and Prof. Eddy van Doorslaer. He is also a research fellow at the Centre for Health and Economics at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Spain). His current work focuses on: (i) evaluating the existence of socioeconomic inequalities in early childhood conditions in the Netherlands; (ii) analysing the consequences of adverse health conditions at early ages; and (iii) assessing the impact of policies targeting health disparities.

  • Read more about our affiliated researchers: Pieter van Baal, Jasper V. Been, Loes Bertens, Pilar García-Gómez, Raf van Gestel, Sam Harper, Owen O'Donnell, Matthew Robson, Kirsten Rohde and Eric Steegers.

    • More information will follow soon

    • Jasper V. Been is an Associate Professor and Consultant Neonatologist the Sophia Children's Hospital at Erasmus MC. He is also a Research Fellow, Usher Institute, The University of Edinburgh; and an Associate Editor, npj Primary Care Respiratory Medicine journal. Topics of his researches are exploring causal mechanisms underlying early-life health inequalities (Action Line Health Equity) and investigating the effectiveness of personalized incentives to promote sustained smoking cessation (Action Line Prevention). His specific research interests are perinatal public health and tobacco control.

    • More information will follow soon.

    • Pilar García-Gómez is Associate Professor at the Erasmus School of Economics, and a Research Fellow of the Tinbergen Institute. Her research aims at understanding the socioeconomic gradient in health. She is particularly interested in the relationship between health and employment, with a focus on the impact of policies like disability insurance, long-term care provision and other labour market policies on the health and labour market outcomes of those affected and their families, as well as the impact of events early in life on maternal outcomes, children health and health and employment later in life. She is an Associate Editor of Health Economics.

    • Raf Van Gestel is Assistant Professor in the School of Economics, and the School of Health Policy and Management at Erasmus University Rotterdam. His research interest is in applying econometric methods to inform health policy. His main areas of focus are healthcare provider quality, impact evaluation and decision analysis. Within the Erasmus Initiative, he works with Tom Van Ourti and Owen O’Donnell to include concerns for risk and inequality in treatment evaluation.

    • Sam Harper is Associate Professor of Epidemiology at McGill University, and is also affiliated with McGill’s Institute for Health and Social Policy and the Centre on Population Dynamics. He holds an endowed Chair of Impact of health and social policies on health inequality at Erasmus University Rotterdam. His research focuses on social inequalities in population health, with specific interests in impact evaluation, measuring health inequalities, global health, demography, causal inference, and ethical issues in public health. For the Smarter Choices initiative, he is working on inequalities in perinatal health and the impact of early child education policies on inequalities in adolescent health.

    • Owen O’Donnell is Professor in the School of Economics, and the School of Health Policy and Management at Erasmus University Rotterdam. He is a Research Fellow of the Tinbergen Institute and a Senior Researcher at the University of Lausanne. His research interests include health inequality, healthcare equity, disability insurance, medical expenditure risk, health insurance coverage and prevention. He is an Editor of the Journal of Health Economics and an Associate Editor of Health Economics.

    • Matthew Robson is a postdoctoral research fellow in economics at the University of York. His research focuses on inequality and draws upon the fields of experimental, health and development economics. He runs incentivised laboratory experiments to observe, and model, prosocial behaviour and develops econometric methods to evaluate the impacts of policy on health inequalities. He works within the Equity in Health Policy (EQUIPOL) research group, works with the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and has co-founded the Interdisciplinary Research Network for Economists and Philosophers (IRNEP). He teaches microeconomics, applied econometrics, experimental economics and health economics. 

    • Kirsten Rohde is Professor of Behavioural Economics at Erasmus School of Economics (ESE), fellow of the Tinbergen Institute, and member of ERIM (Erasmus Research Institute in Management). She is an expert on intertemporal choice, a field of decision theory that analyses the trade-offs people make between the present and the future. Intertemporal choice plays an important role in health behaviour and prevention. Other research interests include concerns for equality and social preferences, and decisions under risk. Kirsten is associate editor at the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. She teaches in the Bachelor Program Economics and Business Economics and in the Master Specialization Behavioral Economics at ESE.

    • Eric Steegers is a Professor and departmental chair of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Erasmus MC. Societal valorisation of results from translational research on the etiology of adverse pregnancy outcomes has led to innovative local and national programmes of renewed risk selection and intervention, both before (preconception care) and in early pregnancy. These programmes combine medical and social domains in collaboration with local and national governments and focus on vulnerable families in deprived districts in particular.