Socioeconomic inequalities in health


This project uses multiple birth cohort studies to better understand socioeconomic inequalities in health, how these have changed across time, and how they may be reduced.

Research details

Project title

Socioeconomic inequalities in health: how have they changed in response to changing policy decisions and economic factors, and how may they be reduced?

Project lead

David Bann


Population health / epidemiology
Health inequalities


April 2017 – December 2019


Academy of Medical Sciences/the Wellcome Trust, Springboard – Health of the Public in 2040 Award [HOP001\1025].


Socioeconomic circumstances such as our social class or income are thought to be strongly linked to our health. On average, the more socioeconomically advantaged someone is, the better their health. Socioeconomic circumstances seem to be important at different points in life. Regardless of what happens later in life, socioeconomic circumstances in childhood seem to have strong effects on adult health. Contrary to a widely-held myth, these differences are not inevitable or unchangeable. Economic and health policies change across time, and are ultimately expected to either worsen (widen) or improve (narrow) these differences.

Scientists, government departments, and voluntary organisations all tend to agree that inequalities in health should be reduced. To inform this aim, this project will provide new evidence to understand:

  1. How these inequalities have changed across time.
  2. How these inequalities may be reduced
  3. How changes in socioeconomic factors have influenced the overall health of the public in the later 20th and early 21st century.

This projects uses data from four birth cohorts – three CLS studies, tracking individuals born in 1958, 1970, and 2000, and the MRC National Survey of Health and Development, following a cohort born in 1946.

These studies contain very detailed information on socioeconomic circumstances across life as well as different measures of health. In the past, researchers have tended to use these studies separately. Analysing them together is a very powerful way of understanding how inequalities have changed across time in society.


Featured scientific publications

Bann, D, Fluharty, M, Hardy, R, Scholes, S (2020)
Socioeconomic inequalities in blood pressure: co-ordinated analysis of 147,775 participants from repeated birth cohort and cross-sectional datasets, 1989 to 2016
Read the full paper
Bann, David (2020)
The scope of health injustice
OSF Preprints
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Bann, D, Johnson W, Li, L, Kuh, D, Hardy R. (2018)
Socioeconomic inequalities in childhood and adolescent body-mass index, weight, and height from 1953 to 2015: an analysis of four longitudinal, observational, British birth cohort studies
The Lancet Public Health 3, no. 4 (2018): e194-e203
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Bann, D, Fitzsimons, E, Johnson, W (2020)
Determinants of the population health distribution: an illustration examining body mass index
International Journal of Epidemiology
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Johnson, W, Bann, D, Hardy, R (2018)
Infant weight gain and adolescent body mass index: comparison across two British cohorts born in 1946 and 2001
Archives of disease in childhood 103, no. 10 (2018): 974-980
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Norris, T, Bann, D, Hardy, R, Johnson, W (2019)
Socioeconomic inequalities in childhood-to-adulthood BMI tracking in three British birth cohorts
International Journal of Obesity
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David Bann Associate Professor in Population Health, Strategic lead of social science genetics

Phone: 020 7911 5426

David is an epidemiologist with broad interests in population health. David was previously Co-Investigator of the 1958 British birth cohort study (National Child Development Study), and is now strategic lead of social science genetics at CLS. He has responsibility for scientific aspects of genetic-related work at CLS (including data management, storage, access systems, research and collaborations).

Rebecca Hardy Director of CLOSER

Phone: 020 7612 6023

Rebecca Hardy has a BSc in Mathematics and an MSc and PhD in Medical Statistics. She joined the MRC National Survey of Health and Development team as a statistician in 1995 and was appointed Professor of Epidemiology and Medical Statistics at UCL in 2012. She became Director of CLOSER in April 2019.

Relevant studies

Contact us

Centre for Longitudinal Studies
UCL Social Research Institute

20 Bedford Way
London WC1H 0AL


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