The monitoring of socio-economic inequalities in health at EU level is still at an early stage, but the evidence published so far suggests that health inequalities are persistent and growing among some groups in many countries.
People across Europe are living longer than ever, but many of the life-years that people are gaining are not being spent in good health, particularly amongst lower socio-economic groups. There are also big differences in health status and mortality rate and in the steepness of socio-economic gradients in health between EU Member States.
These health inequalities cost EU governments dearly: as growing numbers of people suffer from one or more chronic conditions, the high costs of treatment are increasing pressure on the financial sustainability of health and social systems. Those whose health is less than optimal are less productive and less able to contribute to government revenues and economic growth.
High levels of social inequalities undermine the well-being of everyone in society by leading to stress, fear and insecurity. To ensure stability and sustainability in Europe, there is a pressing need to prevent ill health and avoid widening socio-economic inequalities within and between Member States.
For more information about European, National, and Regional action on health Inequalities, and the status in individual member states, visit the EuroHealthNet Health Inequalities portal. www.health-inequalities.eu