Sample Economics Paper on Social Determinants of Health

Question a

The table presents mortality rates of Americans based on social factors such as race, gender and the income levels. From the table, mortality rates reduce as income levels increase. At an income level of under $ 9000, the mortality rate for African American men is 19.5 while at an income level of $ 15000 to 18900, the rate for the same group was 9.8. The mortality rate for women is also lower than that for men, for each income level. For instance, for those earning less than $ 9,000, the mortality rate for women is 7 out of 1000 on average while that of men is 17.75 out of 1000 people on average. The mortality rate for African Americans is also portrayed as higher than that of whites. At an income of under $ 9000, the mortality rate for white men is 16 while that for African American men is 19.5. These discrepancies are indications of social determinants of health and how they influence mortality rates in any given groups of people.

Social determinants of health include factors such as social class, race and gender. The social class relates with the social context, which is the material conditions associated with daily life such as the level of education, income level, housing and affordability, quality of water and air, and access to social services. Individuals from low income families are bound to face many challenges which limit their access to better life qualities. Access to medical care, education and/ or general good quality of life is limited among those with low income compared to those with high income. They are therefore vulnerable to faster death than others hence the high mortality rate among low income earners. Similarly, African Americans and men are subjected to higher vulnerability to risk factors. Factors such as differential exposure, differential responses to ill health and differential susceptibility can explain the reasons behind the observed mortality rates, particularly in men and African – American people.

Question b

Various policy measures can be used to solve the problem of differential mortality rates in the country today. Identifying the causes of differential mortality rates is the first step towards identifying the policy measures that would be necessary to implement. There are four entry points for social policy measures, which can be applied distinctively to ensure a solution is obtained for differential mortality rates. The income level is categorized under the social stratification social determinants. Policy interventions in addressing social stratification as a health determinant adopt entry point A to social intervention, which is influencing social stratification.

Other factors such as gender and race can be addressed through implementing the second and third entry points to social intervention. Point B entails addressing social issues through decreasing exposure while point C is decreasing vulnerability to mortality causes. Men are often exposed to tough work environments which expose them to risks; while African Americans are predisposed to poverty and vulnerability to risks due to their social environments. The last entry point on preventing unequal consequences also addresses the differential income levels to some extent. Unequal consequences in healthcare are a result of differential incomes; hence policies such as the affordable care act and multi-payer systems can help alleviate the impacts of such differences. By ensuring that even the low income earners have access to quality healthcare, preventing unequal consequences can help in reducing mortality.