Health Inequality

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Amherst College

The fact that people of African descent, many Latino populations and indigenous people are sicker and die younger is well-established. The typical explanations rely on diet and other lifestyle factors like smoking. In the last decade there has even been a renewed emphasis on possible genetic factors that might be implicated in these long-standing health inequalities. This course will consider these explanations against those that focus on the “social determinants.” The central insight to emerge from the field of social epidemiology is that social status is the strongest predictor of health, determining access to the resources (material and psychological) that are protective of health. Social status ultimately reflects political equality/inequality. This will be a recurring theme in the course.  This seminar will explore the following questions:  What is the evidence of racial, ethnic and class health inequalities in the United States?  What explains the rise in medical research that searches for a genetic underpinning to racial health disparities?  Why does health care access not explain the inequalities?  What is the evidence that racism makes people sick?  How and why do politics create the policies that directly and indirectly produce racial, ethnic, and class inequalities in the United States.  Can we identify similar patterns and/or developments outside the U.S.?

Limited to 20 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Robinson.


Instructor Permission: 
Permission is required for interchange registration during the add/drop period only.
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Course Sections

Health Inequality
Sect # Credits Instructor(s) Instructor Email Meeting Times Location
01 4.0

Dean Robinson

F 12:00PM-02:00PM

CONV 209