APH 1997, 55, 119-138:

Socioeconomic health inequalities in Belgium in an international perspective.

D. De Graeve, and I. Duchesne

Keywords: morbidity, health status, socioeconomic factors, health surveys, equity

The ECuity project, funded by the European Community's BIOMED programme, designed a common methodology to measure and compare existing socioeconomic inequalities in the concentration of health (or illness) between European countries (+ the U.S.).  This report discusses the methodology and summarises empirical findings for Belgium and its regions.  Where possible, results are compared with those of other ECuity partners.

Using self-assessed health as indicator, significant pro-rich inequalities in health between income groups are found in all countries.  Health inequalities in Belgium are high when compared internationally; only the U.K. and the U.S. do worse.  Within Belgium, there is significantly more socioeconomic health inequality in Brussels than in the other regions (Flanders, Wallonia).

The reason why Belgium performs rather badly is not clear.  In a simple explanatory model, Belgium's health inequality seems to be much higher than one would expect on the basis of income inequality.  Why Belgium is on outlier remains to be investigated.